Shelley Adelson and Sophia Kobs are like bookends to a common life story.
The two Arcadia women are transplants from somewhere else, and are mothers to four boys – each – among their gaggle of boys are a set of triplets and twins, respectively.
“We first met through our kids going all the way back to Hopi Elementary School,” remembers Shelley.
The two became fast friends and soon discovered that they shared a love of shopping for vintage furniture and accessories, frequently crossing paths while treasure hunting at flea markets and antique stores.
They have very similar tastes as they often find the same pieces when scavenging solo. “When describing the item, we’d finish each other’s sentences while describing it to one another,” Sophia said.
Initially, the two were just shopping to furnish their homes, but when they ran out of space there, they started selling the pieces they’d find through a local furniture store and later opened a booth at an antique mall.
That went on for several years until they fulfilled their dream of opening their own retail store, Piece & Story, in November 2017.
“One thing led to another as we could never imagine. But as things evolved, we knew one day we’d become business partners,” said Shelley, adding that she wouldn’t be doing it by herself. “And we wanted to wait until the boys were grown but I think we knew that it was bound to happen sooner or later,” said Sophia.
Their Fifth Avenue store features many unique items from around the world. With the recent popularity of mid-century modern furniture, they feature much from that era as well as unusual, one-of-a-kind items that require an explanation.
“It would be far easier to order our inventory, rather than seeking out special items, but that loses the charm,” Shelley said. You won’t likely find balloon-making molds, Juju feather hats or a German beer garden table from a catalog.
“Can you imagine the stories to be told around these unique items? They give a room soul and character,” Sophia said. “I can almost hear the songs being sung and the beer being spilled on that weathered wood top.”
Hence the name of their storefront, which came to them readily.
“Most any room at home or the office can benefit from that one special piece that stands out and creates interest,” says Shelley. “And the fun part is getting to tell the story around what it is and where it came from.”
Though their store has only been open a little more than a year, the mothers-turned-merchandisers are encouraged by the early returns.
“Of course, our husbands want to see a business plan and our boys ask if the store will put them through college,” they both recall with a laugh, “but all the teasing aside, they are proud of us.”
When asked what of their store inventory they feel is most valuable, they hesitate for a moment and then agree that their children are their “most prized possessions.”