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Smith & Bell Trading Co.

Are you the kind of person who will visit a new place and wander around, looking to see what books are on the shelves, what surprises you’ll find tucked away in a corner, whether there’s a little whimsy in the decorating style or a spot that would be just right for an afternoon with a book? And are you “guilty-as-charged” if you like to add those little touches to your own surroundings that add some color, warmth, humor, or sense of the past?

Then you’re going to love Smith & Bell Trading Company, a cozy shop “stocked with refreshed furniture, salvaged goods, primitive and vintage-inspired home decor.” And don’t worry, gentlemen, because while the women browse hand-painted Ball Mason jar vases, and one-of-a-kind wall hangings, you can visit the Man Cave where some vintage tools or heavy-duty bar wear might be lurking.

Even better, when you go to find the shop, you’re going to have to know, like the characters in the Harry Potter books looking for Diagon Alley, exactly where to look. While the address is 25 Main Street (what could be more simple?) the entrance is actually around the back of the building – so now that you know that secret, meet the owners.

Matt and Katie Smith, the husband and wife owners, came to this avocation through different paths. He had been in the military and law enforcement, she still teaches school. Both loved their home town of Camillus, its charm and small-town feel, and both had a love of and appreciation for “old furniture and the past.” But they recognized that the heyday of antiques had simmered down. However, Katie had a talent for repurposing – looking at something and finding a way to turn it into something new; to brighten it with a coat of paint, or make a butter churn a planter, an old wooden box a way to present serving pieces and flowers in jars for a special table. He, on the other hand, could fix things, and “move them,” Matt says, with a chuckle. “She can make average things look amazing,” he adds. “I can help her move them around!”

Their business, they acknowledge, is about ideas. They gather things from moving sales, discards, or a piece that an owner can’t use when they downsize. One of their great finds, they explained, was something called Fusion Mineral Paint.

It’s a special, buttery, waterproofing, matte coloring top-coat for furniture that preserves it – yet changes it utterly with color. The colors range from very subtle to bright and inviting. And using them, the couple finds ways to re-purpose an old item into something new and different that can find a home in the most modern of settings. “This stuff even works on fabric and leather,” Matt explains. They are one of just three retailers in the county who sell this special brand of paint. Part of the charm for the couple is learning the story of a piece of furniture – and if the actual provenance isn’t available, they’ll envision the labor that might have gone into a bench from the 1800s or a table that was in a kitchen at the turn of the century.

There’s a little something for everyone in the shop, from small items of home decor, to seasonal pieces, to larger furniture, primitives, distressed and repurposed items – the so-called “shabby chic” that is popular – and mid-century modern. In the “Man Cave,” you can find, old whiskey barrels, unusual sports items, and a variety of patriotic wall hangings and flag-themed items. In a special nook tended by cousin Jackie Smith, you’ll find an assortment of Cutco Knives at very good prices, in addition to her selection of primitive and re-purposed pieces.

This is one shop you’ll want to have on your list of social media, as they like to do “popup sales,” so they can clear out merchandise and set to work on the next items ready for painting, fixing, remaking, and re-purposing.

As with every location, the COVID-19 closures have impacted Smith & Bell, but the shop is open Thursday through Saturday, 10-4, with plans, beginning in September, to open on Wednesday 10-4, Thursday 10-6, and Friday and Saturday 10-4.

And don’t forget – this is that “hidden treasure” store in more ways than one. You’ll find hidden treasure there, and to find the store, go around behind 25 Main Street for the shop’s front door!

Nancy Roberts
Writer, voice over artist, information achitect, very curious person.