Best Picks: Charming vintage store has something for everyone
NEW MILFORD — It’s been said that Americans have an overabundance of “stuff” that is evidenced by the growth of antique stores, overstock businesses and flea markets, as well as online retailers looking to bank on found items.
Best Picks, however, is a variation on that theme. Paul and JoEllen Cimmino of Gaylordsville took over a retail space on Route 7 last summer, and transformed it into a charming gift shop loaded with wares for the home and garden. Everything in the store is found and somewhat used, but each item’s value is restored by JoEllen’s skill and taste for the beautiful and eclectic.
“We moved into the old Treasure Hunt in June and it took us a while to get it set up the way we wanted it,” JoEllen Cimmino said. “I think people like coming in here now. People are always finding things they like.”
The Cimminos run an estate sale and cleanout business, working with realtors to oversee the inventory of houses that have been sold or foreclosed. The result, over the years, has been a surplus of useful things often in perfect condition, furnishings, glassware and dishes, linens, handmade crafts and collectible items. After about 10 years of running the business, the couple’s garage and basement were brimming with “things” they couldn’t bear to throw away, and the Best Picks business model was born.
Paul Cimmino started his real estate and property restoration business in 2007. “So you can imagine how many things we started to bring home,” he said with a laugh. “Within a year, our garage was full, and so was everything else. We had to do something.”
They found the old Treasure Hunt, adjacent to the Hit & Run convenience store on Kent Road, and within a few months were ready to move in. The store’s dingy walls and ceilings were freshened with a coat of white paint, the floors were cleaned and polished, and the interior was given a facelift by the arrival of the Cimmino’s inventory. When a customer walks into Best Picks, they are greeted by JoEllen’s friendly smile and a collection of pretty things, all arranged to tempt the visitor to explore and, hopefully, take something home for themselves.
JoEllen Cimmino is a veterinary technician who devotes her time to caring for small and large animals, working for Noah’s Wish, a veterinary hospital, and other animal care organizations in the area. The couple has their own dogs, horses and cats at home, and the work was a good fit for JoEllen. But when Paul’s estate business began to grow, JoEllen got involved. She still provides her vet tech services when she’s needed, and has a part-time employee to help out at the store.
“Paul said, ‘Let’s do something with all these things, that we can do together,” JoEllen Cimmino said. “I like helping, and I like people. When someone comes in here and they need help finding something for their home, I love that. I enjoy it.”
The couple offers discounts on special days — on Veterans Day, for example, anyone with a military ID got a 20 percent break on their purchases. “Our daughter’s in the military, so we try to pay that forward,” JoEllen Cimmino said. “We do discounts on weekends sometimes, too, and it brings more people in. It’s a lot of fun, helping people find what they need.”
During the summer and early fall months, Best Picks offered shoppers an outdoor courtyard in the rear of the store, filled with outdoor furnuiture and decor. It’s closed for the season, but will reopen in the spring.
Along with the beautiful holiday displays inside, the couple has assembled a large collection of tools, sporting goods and equipment for the outdoors, ranging from snow shovels to hand tools.
“The last cleanout we did, we had 200 cubic yards of things to go through,” Paul Cimmino said. “Each time that happens, we pick the best stuff and put it out. We’re already full, but things are moving out of here pretty well.”
A walk through Best Picks is an adventure for the eyes. Little tableaus of themed collections are everywhere, nestled on shelves and tables. A comfortable leather couch is made more inviting with a handmade afghan and a lamp, casting an amber glow on a coffe table laden with coffee cups and candles. In a display case by the checkout counter, jewelry including earrings, rings, necklaces and bracelets shine from beneath the glass. Mason jars have been repurposed with light fixtures or strings of holiday lights, creating “new” and functional decor.
“We believe in up-cycling as many things as we can,” JoEllen said. “Reusing things these days is pretty important. It keeps the out of landfills. Everything can be reused.”
In the rear of the store’s main room, a pretty pair of hand-painted Dutch shoes sit atop an angled wooden table that’s covered with a lace table runner. Old dressers and low tables glimmer with glass curio items. In another room, dining room tables for indoors and outdoors are set for Christmas dinner or a summer picnic, giving shoppers ideas for their own homes. Floor-to-ceiling shelving offers “best bar picks” with novelty lighting and glasses of varied shapes and colors. There are old bottles, antique milk and depression glass, pillows and blankets, books and lamps, mirrors and chairs. Everything is clean and in working order.
Paul Cimmino plans to hold online estate auctions and is working on setting up a company website. “It’s very popular to do it that way now,” he said, referring to sites such as eBay. “We have great inventory and it needs to move.”
Best Picks is open daily at 58 Kent Road, New Milford. The store can be reached by calling 860-799-5010.