MADISON — The scent of an evergreen candle fills the air, two vintage metal lawn chairs, inside, beckon visitors to make themselves comfortable and take in the view of Tuxis Pond from the back window.
Welcome to Junk-2-Junque, a unique shop that recently relocated to downtown. Owner Mary Stryker feels at home at her cozy, 800-square-foot cottage. She has filled the inside with handmade jewelry, artwork, antique house décor, furniture and clothing.
“I love what I do. I love the fact that it is a little house,” Stryker said. “I’ve had so many customers say, ‘I just want to live here.’ ”
Many of the products are handcrafted on the Shoreline. Madison residents represented in the shop include Sandra Ferreira seaglass jewelry and Tim Cosgrove farm animal paintings. In addition, Essex resident Colleen Rodriguez’s leather handbags can be found at Junk-2-Junque.
Even the displays are imaginative.
Some necklaces hang on clipboards, while others are artfully displayed on wooden window frames, pocketbooks dangle from a wooden door frame and scarves are draped over a coat stand.
Then there are the antiques in her inventory, which presently include an 18th-century carriage seat and a 150-year-old bench constructed using wooden pegs instead of nails to hold it together.
“I like to have about three pieces that have some sort of story to them,” Stryker said. “I find out how it was made.”
The authenticity of the pieces is verified by antique appraisers.
The shop started on Bradley Road six years ago. When she opened, Stryker’s concentration was on refurbishing furniture.
“I would find a piece of furniture, then I would repaint it and put little knobs on it and then sell it,” Stryker said. “Then people would love the style I was doing so they were like, ‘Could you come to my house and make my house look like this?’ ”
This was when the business began to move away from hand-painted furniture to interior design and eventually a storefront offering jewelry, artwork, home décor pieces and clothing.
“I’m not an interior designer by trade at all,” Stryker said. “It’s basically all these finds, these eclectic treasures make your house a home. You can put all brand-new furniture into your house, but until you get this old, unique, eclectic stuff that I do, that’s what really makes your house a home,” she said, standing among her finds.
Junk-2-Junque treasures come from a myriad of different places. Stryker has been traveling to the Brimfield Antique Flea Market in Massachusetts and the Elephant’s Trunk Flea Market in New Milford for many years.
While she has a booth at each of these markets, she also meets different people and adds them to her list of vendors.
“I’ve collected people along the way,” Stryker said.
In addition, Stryker has a group of “pickers” who bring their finds directly to her.
“They know what I’m looking for and they’re picking,” Stryker said. “They’re finding things and bringing them to my shop. Junk in the trunk. They come up and open up their trunk and…”
These treasures, in addition to all the others that Stryker has found in her travels, are now on display in her new shop.
“I like that this space is 100 percent her and it allows her to show off her unique style and her decorating,” said Cindy Vogt, a Madison resident and frequent shopper who has been visiting the shop since it opened. “It’s 100 percent Mary. There’s fun jewelry and there’s some fun local artists. There’re always fun seasonal things, like the scarves that she has now — they’re all so super soft. I definitely like the eclectic, handmade personal things from local artists, that’s probably my favorite.”
Andrea Panullo, owner of bellaPerlina, feels a real connection with her new neighbor.
“First of all, I think we complement each other,” Panullo said. “She has impeccable taste and a great spirit. So, for us to be neighbors, it’s the first time I’ve had a connection with any of my neighbors and it’s so much fun because now we’re all excited, we’re going to do events together and it’s so great.”
Over the years, Stryker said her confidence and enthusiasm for her work has grown and made her more successful.
The markets, the interior decorating, the store and all her customers make Stryker more confident and enthusiastic to keep searching for those unique, eclectic items that ultimately find a good home through her work.
“I love meeting my customers and getting to know them, so they always go to where I want them to go,” she said of her treasures.