There’s something new to smile about in East Greenwich: Smyle!, a gift shop on Main Street, which opened its doors in early October. Smyle! carries a variety of interesting vintage and artisan pieces. Sisters Judi Connery and Polly Stacey talked about opening a shop together for years, and last year decided on a concept: “to create a shop that would make people feel happy – from the people who worked there and shopped there to the suppliers and artists we worked with and the peo- ple who received gifts from there,” Connery explains. A hybrid of “smile” and “style” forms the name, and informs the fitting motto, “Where happiness is always in style.” When asked about starting a business in a tough economy, Connery and Stacey simply reply, “What better time to open a shop where people could be happy?”
Lovers of vintage will enjoy the collection of houseware and décor (especially from the deco to mod eras) displayed in the shop. A few pieces, like Connery’s bright-colored anodized aluminum from the ‘50s and ‘60s, are part of the sisters’ own collections. Vintage linens are a specialty of the store. “They say so much about the period in which they were made – they are cultural icons that are often overlooked,” Connery says. When searching for vintage, the sisters look at the design, color and make of the products, and are often drawn to pieces that are reminiscent of their childhoods.
Smyle! also features an array of sustainable artisan-made products, from jewelry and baby clothes to home décor, prints and cards. Connery and Stacey approach talented craftsmen and designers to bring creative pieces that can’t be found elsewhere. Because of the economy, “so many people are turning their creative passions into supplemental, or even primary, income now and the internet allows us to find unique things from all over the country,” Stacey enthuses. “People really understand the meaning behind ‘local’ and ‘small business’ in times like these, and are ready to support local shops.” The sisters love the idea of “functional art,” like a series of well-made, beautiful hand-crafted wallets and messenger bags that they have in store.
Smyle! also carries a wealth of products by local artists (like Lorraine Bromley, Kim Ellery, Pamela Reed and Gillian Stevens), local craftspeople and jewelry makers including Nancy Nielsen, Devienna Anggraini, Sam Loomis, Rebecca Pelton and Sharon Wignot.
Each window display at Smyle! incorporates two whimsical iron figures from the garden of the sisters’ childhood home. Connery says, “I see them as representing Polly and me – having fun and being creative and hopefully passing that enjoyment on to others.”