Rick Miller has found a way to extend the life of old furniture that typically ends up in the garbage and eventually the landfills. He’s reclaiming such items and reselling them – in a new store that opened Sept. 4 in West Hartford.
Miller’s Crossing, located at 74 Park Road, is a unique shop filled with vintage “repurposed” furniture from the 1950s through 1970s. These “reclaimed” items have been painted and restored to what Miller calls “shabby chic.”
A quick tour of the brightly lit, cheerful and cozy space uncovers retro kitchen tables from the 1950s, decorative tin boxes with old photos of the Queen Mum and Queen Elizabeth, metal yardware, glass bottles from old soda companies, and repainted dressers and chairs that might find a wonderful second home in a beach house.
While Rick and his wife Roxanna (Roxi) Booth Miller were furnishing their new beach cottage in Old Saybrook, they developed the idea for the store. They found they loved scouring consignment shops, flea markets, auctions and the Internet for furniture. At the same time, they were refurbishing old items left in their cottage.
On the store’s website, www.millerscrossingct.com, the Millers’ philosophy is described simply: “We find furniture and decorative accessories with a fascinating past. And we give them a future.”
“I have a good eye and I love decorating rooms,” added Rick, who noted he is “living the American dream” by starting his own business after years of working in the automotive industry. Roxi, who co-owns the store, also works at a nonprofit foundation in Hartford. So the West Hartford residents combined their sales skills to open a warm and welcoming shop of one-of-a-kind pieces. The store’s name is a combination of their last names and a store they like “up north,” explained Rick.
Miller’s Crossing is not a consignment shop. The Millers collect and purchase their inventory, which is mostly 50-60 years old. They don’t sell antiques. Some of the items are sold just as they were found. Others, such as an “old tired” table, are repainted by local artists and “given new life,” added Miller.
Prices are reasonable and range from $6 for a lemonade can to as much as $1,500 for a table. An eight-foot long art table splattered with paint which Miller found at an old school sells for $1,000. A white, distressed bench recrafted by a local artist sells for $600.
The store has been open for only a month and the Millers are still setting prices for their inventory. A large aluminum red lobster hanging on the wall doesn’t yet have a price tag.
Several customers have told Rick they love the vintage wooden West Hartford sign that hangs on a wall. But that’s not for sale, because Rick is too attached to it. The street sign is the first piece he bought. However, he is lending it out to the West Hartford Chamber of Commerce for display this month.
Rick takes off Sundays and Mondays to hunt for items, which he often finds on the side of the road where people throw out their old furniture. He’s traveled around New England, attending auctions, visiting consignment shops and furniture stores. He offers customers refurbishing services for furniture they may have tired of but want to keep with a new look, and the owners also offer a trade-in option, whereby customers can trade in items they no longer want for store credit. Home delivery is also available.
The Millers purposely chose to open their store on Park Road, where they find people are “very friendly,” and where they are impressed by the community spirit and diverse businesses, said Roxi.
The Millers also plan to hold free monthly events at the store featuring local artisans speaking about the pieces they have hand-crafted.
Rick points to a stenciled sign on the wall, telling this visitor to make sure to note these words: “The best conversation pieces come with their own story to tell.”
Miller’s Crossing is located at 74 Park Road. For more information and store hours, call (203) 535-6107 or visit www.millerscrossingct.com.