NAUGATUCK — Sam Montville rifled through a stack of miscellaneous pamphlets and papers piled on the floor of his office last Friday morning and pulled out a menu.
He wasn’t in the mood for a bite to eat. Rather, the menu card was one off the Queen Mary cruise liner from the 1950s. It’s worth between $10 and $15, Montville estimated.
“If you have a $10 card sell it for $10. Don’t throw it in the garbage. Don’t throw away money, at least try to make something out of nothing,” Montville said.
Fueled by the mentality of helping people “make something out of nothing,” Montville opened Hawkins Galleries — a consignment boutique at 175 Church St.
“My mission here is to help people make money off of their belongings,” he said.
Montville, a 44-year-old Naugatuck resident and Woodbury native, opened Hawkins Galleries in the beginning of July. Hawkins, who owns the boutique and runs it with his gallery and listing assistants, doesn’t buy items directly from people. Rather, as a consignment shop, Hawkins Galleries acts as a third party seller for people and Montville takes a percentage of the sale as compensation.
Antique medicine bottles, vintage signs and jewelry adorn the Church Street shop. An Alexander Calder lithograph, one of 1,000 pieces printed in 1970s according to Montville, hangs on the wall. A replica of an 1885 Daimler Reitwagon (riding car), a wooden motorcycle fueled by gasoline, is on display in the front window. The motorcycle is one of nine replicas hand-crafted — down to the nuts and bolts — by William Eggers of Goshen.
Hawkins Galleries also deals in estate sale management, and Montville is planning to eventually branch out into estate auction services.
“We have quite a ways to go before we get there, but we’ll get there,” he said.
Hawkins Galleries represents the first business venture for the former painter, carpenter and car salesman. “I’ve done everything under the sun,” Montville said.
After wading through a variety of occupations, Montville found his calling while working at Woodbury Auction in Woodbury. Montville said he worked at Woodbury Auction for only months, but watched the business owned by Tom Schwenke for years.
Montville said after 44 years of life he had found something he liked to do, but needed to go into business for himself to take care of his family.
“Being able to touch history with no boundaries,” is what Montville said attracted him to the consignment business. “I have things that I don’t even know what they are. I consider it an honor to be able to help my customers with their belongings no matter what they are.”
Montville said the first month or so in business has been a bit frustrating at times.
“It’s a beautiful street. It’s a beautiful area. It’s deserves much more local attention. You’ve got some great businesses here,” he said about Church Street and downtown Naugatuck.
Montville said with the down economy and people shopping at big box stores — an act he admitted he’s guilty of as well — the “Main Street” stores are being somewhat ignored. Aside from running his business, Montville said he’s also planning to form a Church Street business alliance so all the business can work together to promote themselves and downtown.
As far as the future for Hawkins Galleries is concerned, Montville said he’ll see where it goes.
“I just want to make enough money to have a happy, healthy lifestyle for myself and my family,” he said.