Cathy Jett is the assistant business editor at The Free Lance-Star, and specializes in covering the area's retail scene.
Downtown Fredericksburg shop offers walk down memory lane
For many customers, walking into Cameo in downtown Fredericksburg can trigger memories.
Their grandmother may have used a Hoosier cabinet like the one in the vintage shop last Wednesday. Or they may have owned a 1960s sideboard like the one on display that’s been updated with paint.
People will often share their recollections, and nothing pleases owner Cameron Parody more than to hear a customer say, “Oh, I’ve been looking everywhere for that.”
Parody, who helped her mother run The Hope Co., now at 614 Caroline St., for many years, opened Cameo next door at 612 Caroline St. in September. She expanded into 610 Caroline St. late last year. Her two showrooms are connected by a back patio that faces a small garden.
Cameo specializes in vintage furniture, home furnishings, clothing and accessories, as well as repurposed antiques. Parody buys some of her inventory from customers or takes it on commission, but most comes from a group of collectors who scour auctions and estate sales or buy directly from owners.
“It’s a very eclectic mix,” she said. “Everyone has their specialty, and it all works.”
So far, old brooches have proved popular with brides, who include them in their bouquets. Someone looking for a unique hostess gift may come away with a piece of Victorian china, and college students snap up frames for photography projects. Customers also turn vintage suitcases into furniture or use them for storage.
“I call everything ‘my little orphans,’” Parody said of her inventory, “and I run a little adoption agency here.”
Cameo also carries some new pieces by local artists, such as the Valentine’s Day cards with pins fashioned from old Dominos by Deborah Gayle of Spotsylvania County, and old-fashioned plate racks and chimney cupboards made by Steve Lambrose of Caroline County.
Parody and her mother, Connie Parody, have been in business separately and together for more than 20 years. Cameron Parody helped her mother at Hope Co., and launched a side business selling primitive furniture and vintage textiles at River Run Antiques, 106 William St., with photographer Kerri Corsano of Fredericksburg and Eileen Boyd, owner of Griffin Bookshop & Coffee Bar at 723 Caroline St.
Terry Smith, who owns River Run Antiques, encouraged Parody to also open her own shop downtown and sell many of the same things. Friends, including Boyd, helped her get it ready.
“Terry kept saying, ‘You can do this,’” Parody said.
Resale shops are becoming a mainstay in cities because there’s a huge demand for previously used items, she said. According to the National Association of Resale Professionals, the resale industry is one of the few recession-proof segments of retailing.
The appeal is twofold, especially during the current economic downtown. Customers not only have a financial incentive to sell or consign unused or unwanted items, but they’re attracted to buying quality merchandise at a fraction of the original cost.
Cameo occupies the first floor of two of the three brightly painted brick buildings that Roy Jones had built as townhouses between 1840 and 1848. They’re connected to Hope Co. by a small archway that frames a narrow alley.
The Parodys plan to hang a sign identifying the three buildings, which are now owned by local developer Tommy Mitchell, as The Shops at Jones Row by Feb. 15. They’d eventually like to open doors onto the alley so that customers can more easily go from one shop to the other.
“I really feel like I’m going to be here for a long time,” Cameron Parody said.