Abbey's Shabbey Shed: Where handiwork, gifts shine

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On Saturday afternoon, a day which has been deemed Small Business Saturday, the lines were long at Abbey’s Shabbey Shed, located at 1460 Phenix Avenue in Cranston.

Guests browsed Abbey’s Shabbey Designs, which featured the handiwork of 25-year-old Abbey Tilton, a spastic quadriplegic who is legally blind and was born with cerebral palsy. Tilton has the use of one arm and one hand, and has put them to work, channeling her creative energies to create a business which showcases a wide variety of items that have been given new life thanks to her extra-special touch, whether re-purposed, recycled or up-cycled from their original purpose. Abbey’s Shabbey Shed is housed on the same property as her residence, and is filled with antique, vintage items from floor to ceiling and even beyond the walls. Sleds, ice skates, wreaths, shelves, frames, candles and the like filled the space as guests browsed and shopped, finding just the right items for those on their gift lists, or for their own purposes.

Abbey greeted all who stopped by as the ribbon cutting ceremony got underway and thanked them all for coming.

“Ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages, welcome to my ribbon cutting ceremony,” she said. “I have too many people to thank. I thank everybody, especially the board of directors.”

She named off those who fill the slots on her board, including several members of her family. Her mom Sharon Tilton, filled guests in on the background behind how Abbey’s Shabbey Designs and her subsequent Shabbey Shed came to be.

“This is part of a self-directed program through the state,” she said. “Part of Abbey’s day must be spent in gainful employment of some type, so we decided to keep her home and do a self-directed program which was more in line with her interests and her hobbies. She wanted to feel as if she was part of something, maybe make some money and use the things she loves to do like painting and crafting and giving people things. She’s very social when people come over.”

Sharon said that initially, Abbey’s Shabbey Designs started out as an online venture, but as her business grew, she got more excited and involved each time someone stopped by to pick up their items and they began to explore the idea of setting up something on site where she could not only sell her work, but showcase it also. She began to increase her inventory as the demands grew for her designs, and soon her inventory was outgrowing its space inside her home.

“Abbey needed a place to showcase her work where people could come out, ring the bell and she could answer the door, introduce herself, handle the money, the budgets, and the pricing,” Sharon said. “These types of soft skills and business skills were important for her to have.”

Sharon and her dad, Abbey’s grandfather and president of her Board of Directors, began researching putting up a shed on the property that could be used to house Abbey’s wares, and soon it was up, and looking like more than just a typical shed, complete with a ramp, cathedral ceilings and French doors. Now, Abbey’s Designs was really off and running as Abbey continued to hunt for items to work on.

“She goes to yard sales, she participates in auctions and visits bazaars, looking for items she can re-do, re-use and re-decorate,” Sharon said. “This also helps her to help the environment because instead of people throwing things out, they pass them along to her so that she can re-purpose them. Pinterest has made it easy for her to look at what she finds and redesign those items. She paints and sands, she uses a lot of chalk paint and she can use an electric sander. Everything she makes has a very vintage, rustic look to it and all of her hours count towards her employment hours.”

Abbey also spends several mornings a week volunteering at a child care center in Middletown and at two different nursing homes, but dedicates her afternoons to her business and the weekends to increasing her inventory as she heads out to pick up items she’s bid on at auctions or scoping out new ones at yard sales.

Light refreshments, including popcorn, hot chocolate and cider were available for guests as they shopped on Saturday, and there was a steady stream of customers arriving, starting even before the official ceremony began. Those interested in shopping at Abbey’s Shabbey Shed can learn more on her Facebook page www.facebook.com/Abbeys-Shabbey-Designs-532614560442556/?ref=br_rs. For more information she can be reached by email at Abbeytilton21.

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