Antiques business bids farewell to Wilton

Jeanne Roberts at her shop, Wayside Exchange. — Jeannette Ross/Hearst Connecticut Media
Items at Wayside Exchange.
Glass and silver swans at Wayside Exchange.

There was a time when antiques and furniture were passed down happily generation after generation for younger people to use and enjoy.

But that time is on the decline, and many young people today have no use for grandma’s prized crystal candlesticks or her handmade quilt.

That’s one reason why the Wayside Exchange consignment store is packing things up and calling it a day.

For more than 60 years, the store, which has operated in two different locations in Wilton, including its current address at 414 Olmstead Hill Road, has offered customers the opportunity to consign everything from art work to household furnishings — in either perfect or almost new condition.

Items passing through Wayside’s doors have included jewelry, china, silver and even a baby grand piano.

But the market for those items has been drying up over the past few years, and Wayside’s owner Jeanne Roberts is closing the shop on April 30.

“The business isn’t the same anymore with people buying furniture off the computer,” said the soft-spoken Roberts. “It has gone by the wayside, so to speak. The younger generation is interested in new items from Pottery Barn and not antiques.”

More and more parents have been coming to Wayside to sell their family possessions because their children don’t want them. This lack of demand has slowed sales for Roberts.

It also didn’t help that the rent on the store has substantially increased, according to Roberts. “When they push the rent up so far, you can’t afford to stay,” she said. The property is owned by the Wilton Historical Society.

Roberts has a passion for antiques and lives in a house built in 1784. She has been in the consignment business — re-selling other people’s items for a fee — for many years.

She first got interested in running Wayside Exchange after visiting the store at its previous location on the corner of Route 7 and Route 33 in Wilton.

Her husband had recently died and she was told the store was for sale. So she and an antiques dealer bought the business together and ran it for years until he left and she became the sole owner. After the rent escalated at that location, she made the move 16 years ago to Olmstead Hill Road.

For a number of years, her business was booming. One day someone would consign a table and set of chairs they no longer needed and the next day someone looking for just those items would swoop in and buy them.

The consignment business turned out to be much more than a dollars and cents enterprise. Roberts got to know many customers — buyers and sellers — on a personal level as well.

“I made so many friends, I will miss so many people,” she said.

At this time, Roberts said, she has no plans to re-open the business in another location.

pgay@wiltonbulletin.com

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