AMESBURY — Sue Stearns couldn't decide what to name her new store in Market Square. She batted around potential names for weeks before trying to think of something that would fit her consignment and antiques store riddled with unique items made by local artisans.
"I decided I would call it Surprise," Stearns said. "Surprise just seemed right to me."
For Stearns, the name is in keeping with what she hopes customers feel when they walk into the store. And her new logo has a special place in her heart as it features Nina, one of her three dogs.
Now open a week, Stearns said she has been busy as the sole employee of the shop, greeting customers and directing them to the spacious downstairs where antique home goods and decorative items are displayed.
From mirrors, water goblets and vases to an upstairs featuring local jewelers and crafters, the surprises are found in the details.
"We have the most beautiful Native American jewelry," Stearns said. "And we will be getting jewelry from the Wampanoag tribe, as my son works with them on Martha's Vineyard."
The one-time owner of Justine's in Newburyport, Stearns, who lives in Amesbury, has been in small business for the majority of her life, having owned and managed several stores.
"I wanted to open another store because it's in my blood," Stearns said. "I missed it a lot. I missed meeting with the artists and working with crafters."
The store, once the home of Fancy Shmancy, is filled with gifts Stearns said target a large group of people.
The 80 percent consignment-based shop offers unique jewelry including original works of Ed Bullok of The Little Bull Trading Post in York, Maine. Local pocketbook maker Connie Palmer also sells her handbags at Surprise.
"I closed Justine's 15 or 16 years ago," Stearns said of the clothing consignment shop. "Now, I love meeting with artists. These kids from art school come in with little shoeboxes, and they open it up and it's just incredible the work they have done, and they sell it to pay for school."
Stearns is currently working to make connections with Rhode Island School of Design and Massachusetts College of Art in Boston to feature student jewelry.
"I think I bring a sense of humor to the downtown," Stearns said. "I have a great deal of energy and enthusiasm."
Stearns is currently looking for additional consignment items. Visit her store for details.