If you walked into Ciao Bella on any unassuming, sleepy Tuesday afternoon in Madison, CT you might be surprised to be greeted by a bustling boutique once through the doors. In my short visit to Ciao Bella, the doors never stopped opening. After only a few minutes, I could see why: shop owners and sisters Janice Briguglio and Sheila Salkin know how to provide that one-on-one support you can only get from a small, local business. Each time a new patron entered, the sisters quickly and seamlessly assisted them as if I was watching some sort of beautiful shopping symphony. “We just know our customers,” Sheila explained to me, “we know what they like and they become our friends.”
Ciao Bella began as a home-based business 13 years ago when Janice and Sheila started hosting events and parties to sell accessories and apparel they would buy when traveling abroad. The parties, and their inventory, was an instant success. Only a year later they determined it was time to open a store.
I decided to take the sisters’ gift buying skills for a test drive. “I need a gift for a friend,” I challenged, “and I don’t want to spend more than $25.” Without a hitch, they took me through the paces. “Ok, so is she more sporty or fashionable?” Sheila asked. “Would you consider her to be trendy?” Janice chimed in. “Does she wear jewelry?” A few more questions later and I had multiple gift ideas from the sisters. My choices were handmade necklaces from Asheville or the Chavez For Charity bracelets that donates part of the sale to a charity or, an always popular choice, Swell bottles.
The sisters said fashion can also be a great gift item if you know the person and their style well enough. If in doubt, “everyone loves a sweater, you can never go wrong with something soft and cozy,” Sheila dished. Ciao Bella has a surplus of soft and cozy this time of year. In the front of the store, you will find trendy sweaters with the latest styles like lace-up ties, crushed velvet, and plush sherpa. But, if you’re looking for the ultra cozy I suggest you meander to the back of the store just up the stairs past the register where there is an entire rack of everything soft. There are irresistible nubby fleeces and exceptionally soft cardigans in a range of styles.
Ciao Bella is also a great spot to shop if you’re looking for something more one-of-a-kind and unique. Aside from their Prosecco Pong game, which I doubt you can find anywhere else along the shoreline, the store carries a lot of distinctive items. One of my favorite things was their collection of personalized collegiate items including handmade pillows and flameless candles (making them dorm approved.) These would make the perfect gift for anyone recently accepted to University, currently attending, or even an Alumni!
The warm and helpful attitude of Sheila and Janice makes gift buying a breeze and a fun, social experience. Not only will they help you hand-pick the perfect item, but they also offer gift wrapping on site and will even send you off with a shipping box if you need to drop the present off at the post office. Just be forewarned that if you go to Ciao Bella shopping for a friend, you might leave with something for yourself. “A lot of people come in shopping for a gift and get something for themselves and we don’t judge,” Sheila laughed. “A gift is a gift whether you gift yourself or someone else.”
Visit this fabulous boutique located at 698 Boston Post Rd, Madison, CT 06443