The distinctive shop features unique and locally made gifts, home and garden décor.
Wilton Cottage & Garden, a distinctively original home decor and gift shop, will open its doors in the Gloucester Village on Main Street this month.
The store’s grand opening celebration, open to the community, is Friday and Saturday, March 27 and 28, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 6619 Main Street. Wilton Cottage & Garden will be operating in the now renovated building formerly occupied by the ABC store and is run by Deltaville resident Aaron Ward.
It is the second location on the Middle Peninsula for Wilton Cottage & Garden, with Ward also operating a store near Deltaville that opened as the cottage and garden shop in 1998. The building in Deltaville has been in Ward’s family for decades, opening first as a grocery and post office in 1930.
Both stores feature clothes, women’s totes and purses, jewelry, home decor, cards, furniture, garden supplies and other gifts.
The first impression for customers entering the Gloucester store will be like strolling into a garden at a Chesapeake Bay cottage. Ward’s living garden display and his blend of colors and textures throughout lends a warmth and tranquility to the shop, setting the tone for a gift and home decor experience that has something for everyone.
Beyond the garden are the gift displays, some hand-crafted by Ward out of century-old lumber, doors and other materials retrieved from buildings that include the family’s old grocery store on Route 33 in Hartfield (now the Wilton Cottage & Garden there).
The creative, imaginative aspect of the store is its defining trait, thanks to Ward. Inside the walls of Ward’s store artsy meets practical and antique meets sophisticated in a fusion of styles, textures and tastes that makes the store a destination.
Ward’s creative passion is marked by decorative touches that include reclaimed wood displays with authentic peeling paint and a shop counter with original wainscoting that’s a family heirloom. He’s incorporated an element of earthy whimsy with decorative ceramic pots and fruit crates filled with potting soil and live, budding turnips, radishes and beets.
Yet it’s Wilton Cottage & Garden’s distinctly unique selection of gifts where Ward’s tastes for originality makes for a diverse array of options for customers, whether it’s colorful women’s scarves, lotions, soaps and hand creams, or children’s gifts.
How he selects his gifts at trade shows may be a little hard to define, as it comes from the heart, but it works.
“We’re different,” Ward said. “We spend a lot of time trying things that are different and unique. It’s whatever strikes my fancy, but it has to be different. It’s definitely not a cookie cutter shop.”
There’s other important factors as well.
“We have to love it,” Ward said. “It has to have that look. And it has to be quality. I want something that’s going to last a long time.”
Ward has a discerning eye for gifts, said Melanie Thompson, who works alongside Ward in the Gloucester shop. From the Spartina 449 handbags and totes, to the handcrafted jewelry and the store’s decorative touches, Thompson said she loves walking into Wilton Cottage & Garden.
“I know what’s here but I still walk in the door and look around and my mouth literally drops open,” Thompson said.
“He’s drawn to things I haven’t seen in other places. This is going to be something definitely different,” Thompson said. “He’s really trying to create an aesthetic of the store here and he’s very, very good at it. He’s got so many ideas.”
Ward said he was drawn to opening Wilton Cottage & Garden on Main Street after conversations with a local business owner and Jenny Crittenden, executive director of the Main Street Preservation Trust. The friendliness along the street — cars stop for pedestrians, among other things, Ward noted — also impressed him.
“The more I learned about Main Street, the more appetizing it became for me,” Ward said.
For Ward, the store reflects the way he thinks about being home — warm and comfortable.
“It’s the same feeling here,” he said.