Upscale and eclectic, Istoria opens in Middletown
Bonnie Peebles didn’t know what to expect when she opened Istoria, an upscale, eclectic consignment shop at 101 N. Broad St., on Aug. 18 — the day of the annual Peach Festival.
“We thought it would be great to have a consignment shop,” Peebles explained. “But we didn’t want it to just be a consignment shop. There is nothing else like this in Middletown. We don’t do clothing or thrift-type items. We’re looking for eclectic items.”
Step inside the shop and you’ll find just that — a mix of artwork, furniture and upscale accessories that has impressed customers.
“We’ve now had people coming back two or three times, and they are bringing their friends,” Peebles said. “Opening on the day of the Peach Festival was a good thing. Word-of-mouth is spreading quickly. On the days that we are open, we have traffic. It’s a great thing for Middletown because it’s something different.”
Most consignment shops are purely business ventures, but the vision for Istoria has a higher purpose. As Peebles explained, the proceeds that are earned at the shop are used to give back to the community. It is Middletown’s first non-profit consignment shop. The items for sale in the shop are either being sold on consignment or have been donated outright by people because they know that the proceeds go to help the community.
Peebles said that she researched how other consignment shops operate and then made her own decisions about how to shape Istoria.
“I want Istoria to be its own entity,” she said. “I don’t want to copy anyone. If you support the shop, you’re supporting the community as well. It’s another way to give back to the community.”
Helping others is something that Bonnie and her husband, Chris, are devoted to. They are both ordained pastors. Before moving to Middletown four years ago, they were missionaries to the Dominican Republic. From 2004 through 2008, they worked at the Hope of a Child Orphanage in Monte Cristi. They taught and ministered in the surrounding communities. They established the City of Light Christian School in 2005.
Four years ago, they returned to the U.S. and, after several stops around the country, soon settled in Middletown, founding The Bridge Church, a non-denominational church.
“We knew that we were going to pastor a church,” she said. “We didn’t know that it was going to be that soon.”
They also established City on a Hill, Inc., a faith-based organization that focuses on humanitarian efforts, including hunger relief and community involvement. They helped start The Basket Food Pantry, which was founded in April of 2010 based on the belief that no person should go hungry. The Basket currently serves 200 families each month, and 40,000 pounds of food, on average, is distributed to the local community.
“That fits our vision of wanting to help the community,” Peebles said. “In this environment, it’s difficult to be a non-profit and function well, because you have to rely so much on volunteers and on funding to be available.”
Peebles added that there is a real need for the food pantry in the community.
“We’ve been doing the food pantry for two years and we’re at a place where we need more volunteers,” she said. “Volunteers are crucial.”
Peebles, who once ran an antiques business, said that she is enjoying overseeing the consignment shop and meeting the people of Middletown.
“It’s been awesome, too, when people come in to the shop and see what we have to offer,” she said.
She wants to work closely with other businesses in town, especially since Istoria’s purpose is to raise funds to help the wider community. “It’s good for people who are doing good things in Middletown,” she said.
Peebles said that they decided on the name of the store because it is a Greek word that means “story.”
“Everything has a story, so it really fit,” she explained. “And it’s a neat word.”
Anyone interested in helping with the food pantry or making a donation to the consignment shop should contact either Bonnie or Chris Peebles.
The hours for Istoria are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. The telephone number is 302-378-0300 and the e-mail address for more information is Istoria.email@example.com.