It Takes a Village
Exploring the markets of Cannondale
Wilton’s Cannondale Village is more than a collection of historic buildings adjacent to the Cannondale train station. It’s also a collection of distinctive shops offering merchandise you won’t find anywhere else. Here’s a preview of what an excursion to this charming area will reveal. And if browsing whets your appetite, Café Au Lait and The Schoolhouse at Cannondale Restaurant, steps away, will satisfy your thirst and hunger.
Connie Brown’s grandmother, a lacemaker, taught her to do needlework when she was young. Her grandfather was a glassblower. Growing up surrounded by beautiful handmade linens and glassware, Brown became a collector of all things vintage by age 16. So it is no surprise that after testing the waters by selling her wares out of her home and at antiques shows, she opened Connie B’s two years ago. Inside the diminutive space, you will find vintage linens and quilts, smaller pieces of furniture, including dainty hand-painted Victorian or Cottage dressers, night tables, and glass-fronted cabinets, Depression glass, sterling and silverplate pieces, china, and other decorative objects, plus a mix of vintage and vintage-style jewelry. “Beyond having a vintage sensibility, my criteria for anything I put in the shop is that it has to be pretty. I buy what I love,” Brown says. “I purchase the best quality I can find; everything has to be in pristine condition. I wash and iron the linens, hand-wash the china, polish the silver, and clean the dresser drawers and line them with pretty paper.” The shop is light, airy, and, of course, pretty. She brings in new items weekly, and if customers have a specific object or piece of furniture in mind, Brown will keep an eye out for it as she makes her rounds at the auctions.
Connie B’s: 32 Cannon Road; conniebantiques.com; 761-8808. Wednesday - Saturday, 11am - 5pm; Sunday, 12pm - 4pm. Anytime by appointment.
Customers wandering into Cannondale Antiques won’t find 18th-century mahogany dressers or sterling silver tea sets. What they will find is the most amazing collection of antique ceramics—vases, plates, bowls, and other decorative objects—in Fairfield County. The pieces range in size from a few inches tall to several feet tall, and in price from several hundred dollars to thousands. The shop is an extension of owners Tom and Susan Libby’s ceramics restoration business, which has been based on the second floor of the same building since 1997. “I grew up in the antiques business,” Tom Libby explains. “I’ve been doing restoration work for people, including high-end dealers, in my workshop for over ten years.” The ceramic pieces they sell in their shop come from all over the world, acquired through their travels and their network of antiques dealers. They specialize in hand-made art pottery from the 1880s to the 1940s, and have an unparalleled collection of Japanese Awaji pottery, many pieces of early 20th-century North Carolina pottery, and magnificent examples of the mid-century Modern movement—pieces with bold geometric forms and bright colors. Clearly passionate about ceramics—“we love to talk about pots”—they are happy to explain the history of any piece in their shop, or offer a tour of Tom’s restoration workshop. It’s an art-history lesson and a bit of the Metropolitan Museum’s Decorative Arts wing right here in Wilton.
Cannondale Antiques: 26 Cannon Road; 762-0244; cannondaleantiques.com. Wednesday - Saturday, 11am- 5pm; Sundays noon - 5pm.
FLOWERS & FINERY
You don’t walk into Annabel Green, the charming clothing and floral boutique tucked into the far end of Cannondale Village. You discover it. The shop reveals itself, surprising and delighting the senses as you move through the rooms, every nook and cranny filled with what owner Wendy Manes calls “flowers and finery.” She opened her doors 17 years ago, after working in the fashion industry in New York City and before that, a stint as the owner of a flower shop in Chester. “I wanted to combine my love of flowers and fashion in one shop,” explains Manes. She carries an eclectic mix of one-of-a-kind women’s clothing and accessories with a vintage sensibility. You’ll find bohemian-chic sweaters from Tara Handknits, skirts and jackets from Cordelia and No Free Lunch, jewelry by Ayala Barr and Linda Farris, fragrances, hair accessories, and scarves. In her floral shop, she sells flowers by the stem, fabulous seasonal wreaths, topiaries, garlands, and aromatherapy candles. She specializes in made-to-order bouquets and fresh and dried floral arrangements for Valentine’s Day, weddings, parties, bar and bat mitzvahs, and any other special occasion.
Annabel Green: 28 Cannon Road; annabelgreen.com; 761-8955; Tuesday - Sunday, 11am- 5:30pm.
The Brits may not be known for their gourmet cooking, but they’ve cultivated many devotees of their sweets, treats, teas, and esoteric foods like sponge puddings, Mushy Peas, and Pickled Onions. Where can one go to satisfy a craving for Crunchies, Hobnobs, or Curly Wurlies? Penny Ha’Penny is a British foods and gifts emporium, adjacent to Annabel Green. Owners Penny Gerstein and Eve Raymond claim they sell “anything you’d find in a small corner shop in the U.K.” Living stateside, they missed British food. Whenever they returned home, they’d bring back boxes of their favorite English treats for friends and family. “We’d been talking about opening a shop for a long while, so when we reached a crossroads in our careers, we decided the time was right to do it,” says Gerstein. That was 22 years ago, and since then they’ve built a loyal following; many of their customers are British, but just as many are people who love all things British, and who come from all over Fairfield County to shop for English foods and gifts. In addition to candies, cookies, jams, teas, and tin goods, they carry an eclectic mix of entrees, including Scotch eggs, Cornish pasties, steak and banger pie; British memorabilia and even a selection of original pub signs.
Penny Ha’Penny: 28A Cannon Road; 762-2233; pennyhapenny.com. Tuesday - Saturday, 10am - 5pm; Sunday, 11am - 5pm.
Like its neighboring shops, Designer Consignor packs a visual punch in a small space, offering custom-made high-end home furnishings. Since 1997, owner Maureen Dunne has carried sofas, armchairs, lamps, window treatments, pillows, original prints, paintings, and other home accessories that interior designers have consigned to sell at prices far below retail. Most of the items are new, custom-designed for a show house or for a client who changed his or her mind after it was too late to cancel the order. The merchandise in her shop changes constantly, depending on what interior designers bring in. While many of the pieces tend to be traditional in style, customers never know what they’ll find in a given week. It could be a fabulous club chair covered in a Ralph Lauren plaid, a sofa in a Lee Jofa damask, or drapes in a Clarence House silk. The one thing that is constant is the deep discounts. “Prices can be as low as 70 percent less than retail,” says Dunne. Dunne will also keep an eye out for a specific item a customer is looking for, and will call if something comes in that might fit the bill.
Designer Consignor: 24 Cannon Road; 834-9988. Tuesday - Saturday, 11am - 5pm.