What was once Wanda’s Sugar Shack in downtown Milford, the iconic candy store owned by the late Wanda Hornack, is now Sophie Claire’s: A Unique Boutique for Home & Her.
While owner Amy DiSabella doesn’t pretend to try to take the place of a Milford legend, known for satisfying the “sweet tooths” of multiple generations, she does hope to fill a niche in the downtown marketplace with her time honored treasures and vintage furniture, all displayed in a cozy atmosphere.
DiSabella opened the shop last year. She’s a longtime Milford resident and change-of-career woman, having been a writer and producer for television in Los Angeles and New York, and then a writing teacher at two private schools in the area.
The shop, which she named after her daughter, is the result of a life-long dream.
For DiSabella, a passion for time honored treasures and “the thrill of the hunt” led to countless weekends spent scouring flea markets, antique stores, junk shops, yard sales, and even stops at the side of the road, in pursuit of that perfect vintage find or one-of-a-kind furniture piece.
But the adventure never seemed to stop there. Her love for creative repurposing, repainting, remodeling and re-imagining always led to the transformation of these finds from “rustic to refined” through unique and imaginative finishes.
“I learned the craft from my mother,” DiSabella said. “She had been doing this for years.”
She said at Sophie Claire’s, she likes to have fun with home décor and does not believe in limiting design to one style. This is evident, she said, in the eclectic mix of everything for the home from French flair to modern vintage…cottage chic to shabby chic.
“My goal when opening this store was to help customers create a lifestyle that is sophisticated, yet relaxed and easy with the guarantee that each piece is something unique that would never be found in any home décor chain or “big box” store,” she said.
The shop also offers fashion with a connection to the Milford coast that reflects its relaxed seaside lifestyle. Designer clothing lines include Gretchen Scott and JG Knitwear, a luxury knitwear collection by local Milford designer Florence Carroll.
“I wanted to include pieces in the store that were consistent with the tone of Sophie Claire’s…elegant and luxurious, yet easy and casual,” DiSabella said. “The simplicity of JG Knitwear, combined with its vibrant vintage inspired original prints and bright color palette, made this collection a perfect fit for our store.”
There also are bags and jewelry that she says also reflect the chic simplicity of the seaside lifestyle.
A lifelong dream
Reinventing is sort of what she did with her life, DiSabella said. It was a rather bold change from writing for shows like Sally Jesse Rapheal and Dick Clark, but it was a change she knew was right.
“This was always my dream, and I had faith,” she said. “You need to follow your passion and believe in yourself.”
She picked Milford’s downtown because she loves Milford. Her husband, Nick, grew up here and when they married, they moved here.
And the choice hasn’t failed her. DiSabella is happy in her downtown shop, and she said the foot traffic brings her a steady stream of customers.
She’s located in Harborwalk, just behind Frosty Twist.
And of course for people who can’t picture the storefront yet, she can always tell them it’s the former Wanda’s Sugar Shack.
She looked around the shop on a recent day, eyes traveling to the back room where Wanda used to make her candy, and then the walls that once boasted jars and jars of candy and now boast vintage furniture.
“She’s good karma,” DiSabella said.
The shop’s summer hours are Monday to Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday noon to 4 p.m.