By Lisa Green
Just this week, Home Accents Today
, a retail trade publication, announced its annual 50 Retail Stars
list, and to absolutely no one’s surprise, J. Seitz & Company
of New Preston was on that list. Again.
The family-run mini mega store has thrived for decades, not only because of its continually fresh "cabinet of curiosities" approach to merchandise, but because it’s run by a family threesome (Joanna and Bill Seitz, and daughter Amanda), who get along like gangbusters. Now celebrating their 30th year in business, the Seitz’s first filled their store with southwestern textiles and patterns, which all of our homes had at least a touch of in 1986. Over the years, they’ve evolved into resourcing fashion and home goods that are more in the comfortable, Connecticut country vibe, that rustic elegance that pretty much personifies Rural Intelligence
"I guess we have the formula, and we have great clients that support us, so we are very lucky," Joanna said when we visited with her and Amanda
a few years ago.
Lucky, maybe. Smart, fashion savvy, and customer oriented, certainly. It’s a winning formula for the eclectic shop overlooking a waterfall. The family enterprise has always kept the inventory fresh, new and interesting, as their customers who travel to the emporium regularly from all over New York and New England will attest.
Fortunately for them, there’s no slowing down in the family’s attempts to find items that appeal to a sophisticated country sensibility. These days, Joanna says, that means a certain authenticity in materials and design, a connection with the makers.
“We look for artists who make things versus things from large manufacturers," she says. “We’re able to support these independent people and our customers really appreciate their work."
She cites a new designer who once worked with high-end diamond jewelry, but whose consternation about the diamond industry’s questionable practices moved her to work with recycled metals. The home lines at the store include furniture with natural materials gleaned from barns or cement floors and repurposed into elegant, modern forms.
Despite admitting that there are now days where the business tires her out more than it used to, Joanna says she’s not ready to retire yet.
What about that dream she mentioned a few years ago — the one where they’ll retire to New Mexico, ride off into the sunset, and Amanda will run the store?
“Oh, that’s still our dream," Joanna says. “Amanda is about to have her first baby. Maybe the next generation will follow in our footsteps."
J. Seitz & Co.
9 East Shore Road
New Preston, CT