By RONDA GREGORY
News & Journal Staff Writer
Walking into The Vintage Shoppe at 351 East Main Street in Bridgeport can make a person who loves all things old and lovely go giddy and gushy about the multitude of antique and vintage furnishings and items. More than 2,500 square feet of retail space in this new Bridgeport business is interspersed with neat-and-tidy domestic and familiar comfort-inspiring scenes from bygone eras.
Nineteenth Century rough-hewn wood dining tables, set with silver settings and delicately painted china, are surrounded by cupboards of modern-made recreations of vintage pottery. Sitting in a 1950s-1960s soda fountain booth with glassware and tin Coca-Cola trays make mental jukebox melodies in your mind; you can almost hear Buddy Holly, Elvis and The Supremes in the background.
So much to see! The visual and tactile senses reach overload. The sentiments of whimsy of intricately designed dollhouses, road bikes and beloved children’s books excite old memories. Well-crated furniture painted robin’s egg blues, antiqued golds and reds and many other shades are an eye feast.
“I appreciate the workmanship and details that have gone into making a vintage or antique piece of furniture or item,” said owner Gina Stalnaker.
Stalnaker said she loves creating these experiences for her customers, because she’s always loved the warm feelings they create.
“Many of those pieces tell a story; they illicit a response in us that brings us back to a particular time or place,” she said.
Growing up in a town called “Home” in southwestern Pennsylvania, near another town called “Plumville,” obviously fits Stalnaker’s love of nostalgia and Americana-inspired decor. She said her love of antiques began at home and that as a child, she joined her parents on visiting venues with vintage items.
“I have always enjoyed the adventure that comes with attending auctions and flea markets,” Stalnaker said. “And I love the surprises that result. It’s so special to bring these treasures to Bridgeport.”
A perfect setting, the store itself is housed in a 100-year-old home that has much of the original wood flooring and woodwork intact.
“I think it complements what we’re doing here. It makes it that much more special,” she said.
Stalnaker said her signature style blends vintage and antique with items people already have.
One of her services is to help her customers create that unique atmosphere in their homes that reflects their individuality.
Stalnaker said The Shoppe is a genuine family affair. Her husband, Ron Stalnaker, and her father, Charles Pompelia, worked hard renovating the store, getting it ready for the Grand Opening in late September. And her two children -daughter Quinn, 16, and son Nick, 13 – help out.
“They both have really chipped in when needed,” she said.
Quinn created the entryway floor’s stencil design decoration.
Sister-in-law Sherri Stalnaker adds to the family project by displaying her beautiful-but-sturdy handcrafted baskets. Creating woven baskets for 10 years, she said she’s happy to now have them for sale at her sister-in-law’s store.
“I’m very excited about it,” Sherri Stalnaker said. “I love The Shoppe because I get to look at all the pretty things around me when I work.” She will be teaching a basket-weaving workshop in mid-November.
Owner Gina Stalnaker will also be teaching a workshop then, just in time for the holidays. She’ll be teaching chalk painting in accordance with the renowned decorative painter Annie Sloan method. Stalnaker’s friend, Paula Rakestraw, who has custom-painted many pieces featured in the store, will also be teaching the chalk-painting workshop.
Stalnaker is one of only two retailers in West Virginia to stock Annie Sloan paints, lacquers, floor waxes and fabrics. “I’m selling her entire line of products,” Stalnaker said.
Stalnaker will host an Open House for the holiday season and will be announcing the date soon. For information about that event or other questions, call The Vintage Shoppe at (304) 848-0303; or like and visit it on Facebook.
Stalnaker said she hopes many people come to the festive-themed Open House or just any ole time.
“We’d love to share this blessed holiday season with old and new friends,” Stalnaker said. “Come by and enjoy these treasures and this special time with us.”