Media Archive

Curiosity Shop is unique cooperative enterprise

Article from The Piscataquis Observer, Wednesday, August 02, 2006

By Fran Emmons
Staff Writer

MILO - The two women are not really alike. One is 47, the other just 25, but the two have yoked different interests to a common goal and the result is the Curiosity Shop, a new business - or two - at 5 Elm St. in Milo.

Meet Monica Demers, who owns Rose's Consignments, a shop that offers a little of everything and a lot of the unexpected.

"Why not check to see if we have what you need before you go out of town," Demers suggests, relating the story of a woman who needed a baby gate and was on her way to Bangor to purchase the item when she made a quick stop at the shop and got exactly what she needed.

Mother of two - Diana Rose, 4, and Rebekah, 2 - Monica (Pilon) Demers is a graduate of Penquis Valley High School, having moved to Milo from Ontario, Canada with her family 11 years ago. She is married to Matthew Demers. She has a varied background, working as an editorial assistant for "a very small local newspaper that no longer exists" to becoming a pharmacy technician at Rite-Aid. Once the children came along, they became her first priority.

I opened the shop because I am easily bored and every once and a while I need a major life charge," Demers jokes, adding that she always had wanted to own her own business, but had not expected to do so this quickly. "A lot of things came together" to make it happen, she says.

Enter Victoria (Kretzschmar) Eastman, who moved here in 1990 from New Brunswick, Canada to take a position as an eighth-grade English teacher at Penquis Valley Middle School. She is married to Jack Eastman, who is the middle school music teacher. Eastman is also a mother to 6-year-old Victor, and the two, Demers and Eastman, met at the Mother's Group at Penquis CAP in Dover- Foxcroft.

Books have always been a fascination for Eastman, so Second Thoughts - a broad collection of recycled readables - is a natural enterprise for the former English teacher to start.

The cooperative effort - neither woman terms it a partnership - shares space in a building on the comer of Main and Elm. The women also share rent and utilities, as well as the hours to staff the shop, with Eastman generally there from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and Demers taking over from 1 to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday.

"Those are summer hours," Demers is quick to point out, adding that they expect to cut back on hours once school starts.

The cooperative effort - neither woman terms it a partnership - shares space in a building on the comer of Main and Elm. The women also share rent and utilities, as well as the hours to staff the shop, with Eastman generally there from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and Demers taking over from 1 to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday.

"Those are summer hours,"
Demers is quick to point out, adding that they expect to cut back on hours once school starts.

Second Thoughts has a wide variety of titles - from children's books to Westerns to classic literature - and more than 1,000 volumes. Prices are low, from $.10 to no more than $5 for a sought-after hardcover, Eastman said. Business has been building and she even has regular customers already.

Many come in for Mary Higgins Clark mysteries, she says, admitting that she herself loves reading mysteries. She also has collectors asking her to find certain titles and authors.

"I have a customer who is missing only seven titles in all of James Oliver Curwood's body of works," Eastman explains, adding that Curwood is a Canadian author.

While Eastman takes donations of books, rarely buying volumes unless the author or title is especially sought after, Demers sells her merchandise on consignment, taking a percentage of the selling price. At this point, she has 40 different consigners and works hard at keeping the variety of items in the shop "fresh".

Noting that she will try selling anything, Demers has done a lot of legwork to make contacts, going to a lot of chamber of commerce events and advertising for consigners.

There are no empty spots in her shop. There are lots of children's items, from toys to furniture to clothes, and a good selection of men's and women's clothes. But there are also surprises, like sea glass mobiles and a Dale Earnhardt Sr. commemorative plate. There are small appliances, new handmade quilts and baskets, too.

"I also have a lot of jewelry," Demers says, "and that is going well." While women are the more frequent customer, there are also items that men would be interested in, she notes.

"This is a good place to find a really nice gift and not pay a lot for it," Demers emphasizes.

The Curiosity Shop opened on May 22, and since then, the traffic has been improving steadily. During the 100th Anniversary Celebration of the Milo Fire Department, the shop had a big sidewalk sale and followed it up with an open house on Sunday, a day the shop is usually closed.

While the shop has maintained an advertising presence, a lot of its customers say they came because they heard about it from a friend.

Owning one's own business definitely has its advantages.

"It's good! I can bring the kids here; day care was never an option. They stay with me a couple of hours and then their father comes and picks them up," Demers says. Matthew Demers works for the water district.

"It's cool because I like what I am doing and it's cool because the shop offers something for people locally," Eastman says.

If you want to consign goods, or are looking for something particular, you can call Demers at 943-3041. If you would like to donate books or have a specific volume you are looking for, you can call Eastman at 943-2400.

And if you are curious at all, then you should make a trip to the Curiosity Shop just to see what you can find.


"Content above originated in the edition noted as a copyrighted article and is posted here with permission of The Piscataquis Observer. This permission does not extend to reproduction of these articles in any other form or publication."


NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.