Jasper Decor: A bit of New Jersey, with a Vermont twist

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WILMINGTON — After Christina DeMarothy's husband retired from his information technology job in New Jersey, in 2015, the spouses needed to decide on a place to live. They planned to sell their main home, in Edgewater, and their Vermont ski home, in West Dover, and relocate. Kristof DeMarothy suggested North Carolina or Costa Rica. His wife asked about Vermont.

"I'd said I'd love to retire here, and he said, 'Over my dead body,'" Christina DeMarothy recalled, with a laugh.

The DeMarothys' place in New Jersey sold quickly, and they had three weeks to vacate the premises. They directed the moving van northward, to an address in West Dover.

"We moved everything up here and then sort of sat here for three months," Christina DeMarothy said. "And we really liked being up here."

Despite his earlier protests about moving to Vermont, four years ago, Kristof DeMarothy remains very much alive.

For nearly 30 years, Christina DeMarothy had worked as a travel agent. In 2009, after she had grown tired of that industry, she opened a small shop in Midland Park, N.J. The store, Jasper Gallery & Gift, sold artworks and home d cor items and remained open until 2015, when it was closed in conjunction with the sale of the family home.

On Memorial Day weekend 2016, about a year after she and her husband had established themselves as full-time Vermont residents, Christina DeMarothy opened Jasper Decor at 9 S. Main St., in Wilmington.

"I wasn't ready to be retired," she said. "This store, it's a little bit different from the one in New Jersey. I like furniture, and so it has more country items. There are unique pieces of antique furniture."

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Jasper Decor was opened inside a space formerly used as a studio apartment. To satisfy the town's codes enforcement officer, DeMarothy's landlord had to make some changes to the bathroom so that it was accessible to disabled patrons. To satisfy his tenant, he had to alter the interior walls so that more of the floor was opened up for selling space.

"This old building has been a lot of things," DeMarothy said. "It was a post office. A barber shop. A pool hall."

Jasper was a successful enterprise when it operated in New Jersey, DeMarothy said, but she was unsure what to expect when she opened in Wilmington in May 2016.

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"I didn't know if I was going to sell three dollars' worth of stuff a month," DeMarothy said. "I not only made my rent then, but I've doubled my sales since."

Prices in the store range from $1.50, for soaps, to $1,200 for a piece of furniture. The average price for merchandise, DeMarothy said, was about $25.

She estimated that about 85 percent of her sales are made to second homeowners from Wilmington and the surrounding area, and seasonal tourists. Local people account for the remainder of sales.

The majority of the inventory in Jasper Decor is owned by DeMarothy. This stock is a combination of items of her own manufacture, furniture which she has refinished and repurposed, or pieces - like hand-painted gourd ornaments - such buys for resale.

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Illuminated glass clocks are some of the stock which the owner makes in-house.

"A lot of people like these," DeMarothy said, standing before four of the clocks, shaped like squares and rectangles, which were plugged in and glowed on a table they shared with some pieces of antique pottery. "I usually make them from vintage jewelry and different pieces, like seashells."

Most of the antique furniture that is purchased for refinishing, according to the owner, is procured locally. DeMarothy sometimes travels to homes in the area to do refinishing on location, and also offers interior-decorating consultation services.

Other inventory is offered on consignment.

The painter Leslie Brunn, based in Wilmington, sells prints and originals in Jasper Decor. John Sprung sells his SprungWood creations, including bowls and cutting boards crafted in his East Dover workshop. And Dave Kuhnert, from Wilmington, sells wood carvings of Christmas ornaments, and caricatures of Santa Claus and other figures.

If Jasper Decor is a Vermont variation on the Jasper Gallery & Gift store that Christina DeMarothy operated in New Jersey, the personal lives of the DeMarothys also were altered after they moved from the Garden State to the Green Mountain State.

"In New Jersey, we were both working and we didn't really socialize," Christina DeMarothy said. "It was a totally different type of atmosphere. We came up here and we have a social calendar. It's a small community, so everyone knows everybody, and it's nice."


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