PITTSTON — Sue Guzik’s shop is full of old things but, at first glance, a new customer would see only bright, colorful and thoughtfully-produced works of art among her inventory of handmade and upcycled decor. Ornaments, wall decorations, mirrors and vases, all born from discarded materials and treasured inspiration, are among the items Guzik sells.
Fly Me Home on Parsonage Street is approaching its third year in business, and has grown through the hard work and creativity of Guzik and her husband, David. The pair’s work has become sought after by people locally and throughout the state, and their little shop has become a gallery where they display the work they love in order to share it with others.
“I do a lot of custom mosaics, but we also do custom stamping,” Guzik said. “I started out with mixed media, vintage tin and pieces of old steamers.”
Guzik, who worked as a graphic artist in the commercial sector for 16 years, said opening the store made a lot of sense after her creative side found itself at an intersection with unemployment.
“I kind of have a decorating background,” Guzik sad. “When we bought our house, I was always looking for cheap ways to decorate, and that’s how I started repurposing.”
Encouragement, she said, came from friends who saw her work and one young couple she encountered at a yard sale who owned a successful vintage rental business.
“I originally started doing some consignment work, and then I got laid off as a graphic artist; it just made sense,” Guzik said of starting the business.
Guzik uses glass, corks, old china, tea pots, metal plates and buttons, among other items to create her pieces. Her mosaic forms range from animals like butterflies and owls to customized pieces such as a patron’s initials, and she produces each piece by hand, cutting glass to decorate the background. She credits her husband for building forms out of medium density fiberboard, and makes it clear he is the creative mind behind the store’s stamped silverware items.
“My parents were both lovers of antiques,” Guzik said. “I think I just always had the appreciation for old things. It kills me to see something thrown away that could be beautiful and have another purpose.”
Guzik’s repurposed pieces have drawn the attention of a customer base comprised of repeat buyers.
“I have customers who appreciate it and collect a lot of my pieces,” Guzik said.
Those customers, Guzik explained, are as important to her as the work itself.
“I like to think I run the business like a family,” Guzik said. “My dog is here usually, and people come to see her. We’re very interested in personalized (work), to make it mean something. People come back; it means a lot to us.”
Traci Roth, of Kingston, has been buying Guzik’s work for several years prior to the opening of Fly Me Home.
“What I loved about her items is they were so unique and creative, and I’m very nostalgic, so that’s what I love about the pieces she made then and she and her husband make now,” Roth said. “You can’t find it anywhere else.”
“It’s almost like an event when I go there,” Roth added. “I like to spend time and walk around. She makes you feel welcome and special, and you can’t help but want to promote her.”
Guzik said a number of craft shows have become part of the couple’s schedule and, although exhausting, have helped grow the business.
“We do about 25 shows a year, and they’re all in Pennsylvania,” Guzik said. “We definitely get people who will come to the shop that have seen us at a show, which is nice. A lot of them I’ll see at every show if they’re able to go. I’ve met so many great people.”
Those people, both customers and fellow crafters, have affected Guzik in a positive way. She likened the network of creative people to an extended set of coworkers from whom she learns and with whom she finds solace in like-minded sentiments, but her affinity for customers is what comes to the forefront of conversation when she addresses the business.
“We’re about customer satisfaction,” Guzik said. “Early on, I had a bad experience with someone who treated their customers poorly. It taught me that sometimes you learn the greatest lessons in life from something painful because it was a bad situation. I think now that I would never treat a customer that way.”
Reach Matt Mattei at 570-991-6651 or Twitter @TLArts.