The Shady Lady has moved a total of eight times since the business first opened in 1995, but it seems to always find its way back to downtown Damariscotta.
“People keep coming in and saying they’re so glad to have me back, which is very nice. It makes me feel good,” said Willis Somoya, who owns the eclectic antique shop, now located at 128 Main St. “It’s like being back home.”
According to Somoya, The Shady Lady actually had three previous locations in Damariscotta, with the longest tenancy at 112 Main St., now The Peace Gallery. A stint at the Nobleboro Antique Exchange was then followed by seven years growing the business in Wiscasset.
In 2016 Somoya had the opportunity to reestablish The Shady Lady at her favorite Damariscotta location. She spent the next six years back at 112 Main St. before circumstances dictated she shift the business to Wiscasset again.
However, it turns out she wasn’t through with Damariscotta.
While Somoya loved the exposed brick walls and the expansive display space of her Wiscasset location, and while she got plenty of customers in summer, she said parking issues and the lack of supporting retail and restaurants in winter negatively impacted the numbers for a year-round business. She sold fewer high-ticket items to the tourist trade that travels north through Wiscasset.
“They don’t necessarily buy big furniture when they’re from away,” she said. “They’re getting on a plane.”
When Don Bostick and Danny Cain, of Damariscotta boutique Citizen Maine, recently consolidated their two locations to one, Somoya saw the possibilities inherent in the vacated space.
“I grabbed it as fast as I could,” she said.
While her new space is smaller than her previous locations, Somoya said the rich orange of the walls and the giant Audubon painting that sets the stage for the space will showcase displays of antique lamps, furniture, and tableware beautifully.
Somoya will also continue her foundational business of crafting hand-pierced and hand-sewn lamp shades at the shop, though she said she may do more of the actual work at home where she can spread projects out more easily.
Creating lampshades started out as a hobby after Somoya took a class in the cut and pierce techniques that she specializes in. When she retired from her job as a typesetter in Connecticut she developed that hobby into a business. She taught herself how to build hand-sewn shades to order and when her husband got tired of rewiring lamps for her she learned how to do it herself.
Somoya said it’s getting harder to find lamps these days. She thinks more people are keeping them as opposed to buying new ones.
“That’s the best part about lamps. You can make them look different with a different hat, so to speak,” she said.
Somoya stocks plenty of floor lamps and table lamps but chandeliers are one of her biggest sellers and a defining characteristic of her business. A lovely filigree of light and glass and metal has filled the ceilings of her shop in the past and she plans to continue that tradition with a chandelier in every window of her new space.
“They can be hung anywhere,” she said. “In bathrooms and bedrooms, not just over the dining room table.” To Somoya, the crystalline confections work with any decor.
“You can have a log cabin with a glitzy chandelier in it,” she said.
Lamps may be her first love but Somoya is particularly fond of glassware too. Her father was a designer for Steuben Glass Works in New York, making what she calls “plain, good-looking glass.”
She said her family never had the fancier glass, the Waterford crystal or gold-rimmed stemware that she finds herself drawn to. So a set of tall shelves holds a selection in the new shop, the gold rims set off nicely against the orange walls.
Somoya has no plans to retire. In a way she sees The Shady Lady as her retirement; the business supports the hobby she loves. Plus she enjoys shopping for lamps and antiques and The Shady Lady gives her a good excuse to do so. Every time she visits her son in Connecticut she shops all the way down there and back and she makes biannual pilgrimages to the Brimfield Antique Flea Market in Massachusetts as well.
“To me it’s all fun, she said. “Every bit of it is fun.”
Starting June 3, The Shady Lady will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday.
For more information, find The Shady Lady on Facebook.