Saturday was a busy day at Splurge Gifts on Lewis Street where owner Sonia Malloy said she and staff stayed busy when non-essential businesses were shut down early in the pandemic.
“We did Facetime appointments and offered both curbside pickup and deliveries,” she recalled. “We worked six days a week and were extra busy with Easter baskets and Mother’s Day gifts.”
Since the store reopened on May 20, Malloy said business has been strong and people seem eager to support local retailers.
On Saturday, as customers perused gifts in her store, Malloy said, “We’re selling items appropriate to the situation now, including hand sanitizer, masks and mask chains and lanyards.”
Mask chains? Yes. Think of the times you’ve dangled a face mask from one ear or bent your ears to tuck a mask under your chin.
Also popular are cozy throw blankets and slippers for all the hours people are spending at home. Jigsaw puzzles and candles are also popular.
“People are seeking gifts with meaning,” Malloy said, adding that people are still giving gifts for christenings, communions, birthdays, and teacher appreciation.
“And people want to limit your shopping to the safe, comfortable environments,” she said.
To that end, there is a limit to the number of people in the store at a time. Everyone wears a mask and there is hand sanitizer at the entrance.
On Saturday there was an extra buzz in the store with Jen Graziano displaying her fine jewelry line, the RememBar Collection.
Graziano, a fourth generation funeral director, whose family-run funeral homes include Coxe & Graziano in Greenwich, came up with the idea for the RememBar Collection as a way to personalize jewelry in a way that keeps memories close.
The “bars,” which can be engraved, are hollowed out inside and have a screw backing. They come with a kit to open them and securely place something personal inside. Perhaps a lock of hair, perfume, or small portion of a loved one’s cremated remains. Each piece is custom and the bar can be hung from a necklace vertically or horizontally.
The pricing depends on the stones selected and there is no charge for engraving. There are also bracelets, rings, and both heart and cross pendants, in addition to a men’s collection.
“The line began when I realized there was a void for beautiful memorial jewelry. There is a tangible comfort in knowing someone you love is close to you,” she explained. “Love lives on – it’s a happy story. A lot of people find wisdom in this.”
Each RememBar piece has a genuine birthstone to commemorate a loved one as well as the sentiment “remember” delicately inscribed.
“The idea is to provide comfort as we move forward,” Graziano said. “Love lives on as life goes on.”
The line was designed with the expertise of Ward Kelvin, a renowned designer in the field, to inspire and provide hope that life goes on, and love lives on. The jewelry was at first sold exclusively through Coxe & Graziano, but took off through word-of-mouth.
“The jewelry is durable,” said Mr. Kelsey, the designer. “It’s not hokey or too big.”
“My inspiration was derived from the families I have worked with at our funeral homes,” Graziano explained, adding that she wanted to create something both meaningful and beautiful. “I know the pain of loss is real and people who grieve are in search of comfort.”
“It’s wearable and understated,” Graziano said of the hollowed out bars featured in RememBar jewelry. “Nobody has to know.”
A second line in the collection is called StoryBar that allows people to build their own story. “It’s about personalized jewelry,” Graziano said, adding that all four sides of the bar can be engraved and gemstones can be added.
“I realized everyone has a story to tell and there is a comfort in keeping that story close to you,” she said.
With StoryBar, there is a choice of metal, choice of stones, and, lastly, the option of engraving names, words or phrases – it’s possible to engrave all four sides of the bar.
“It grew from there,” she continued. PetBar came next. “If you have loved a pet, you just understand,” she said.
Another jewelry line is the Sunrise Pendant Collection.
“It’s a beautiful opal and diamond pendant that symbolizes hope and renewal,” Graziano explained. “Life goes on.”
Graziano donates a portion of the Sunrise Pendant Collection to cancer research in honor her mother.