Find the beauty you’re looking for on the shelves of V.C. Wares in Wheeling.
written by LAURA ROBERTS
photographed by NIKKI BOWMAN MILLS
IN THE HEART OF WHEELING’S HISTORIC CENTRE MARKET—a hub for art, food, and shopping—customers looking for a unique experience will find V.C. Wares, a warm and stylish source for vintage furniture and locally made products. Owner Amy Cordy taught school for 21 years in the Northern Panhandle. “I always told my students that you should love what you do,” she says. “And you can do anything you want.” After many memorable seasons and students, Cordy began thinking about moving on and opening a shop of her own. With her husband Steve’s support, she found a retail space in the growing Centre Market. “When I look back, it was kind of insanity. I had to make a leap of faith and just go all-in, which was the best thing that could happen.”
Cordy opened her store, originally called The Vintage Cottage, in April of 2014. Her initial focus was on interior decorating and antique and vintage furniture. Over time, however, she’s expanded her line of products. In addition to furniture, she sells decorative items, home goods, and apparel. “It’s fun and authentic,” she says. “We always want to have different things that you don’t find everywhere.” To that end, she’s proud to offer local products. These include candles, jewelry, body products, greeting cards, and even plants. Moreover, she’s especially proud to support other woman owned businesses. Many of her items are sourced from local women makers, something her customers appreciate. When it comes to style, Cordy relies on her instinct: If it’s a product she would want in her home, she’s likely to offer it. “If I wouldn’t put it in a client’s house, it’s not going to be in here,” she says. She also sells chalk-style paint, which can be applied to furniture without sanding or priming and can be used to create a distressed effect. The staff will walk do-it-yourself customers through the process and can refer clients to a chalk-painting professional, too.
When it comes to the bigger picture, Cordy says her nine years as a retail store owner in Wheeling have given her a unique perspective on the city’s growth and change. “I’ve seen so much growth and so many potential positives. Wheeling works really hard to bring young people in. They love it because they can have a little bit of urban living. I’ve seen a lot of businesses come and go, but I’m starting to see more that stay.” She sits on the Centre Market Commission and works to support the businesses around her as much as she does her own. “One of the things we’re really big on here is community versus competition,” she says. “So if someone comes in, we’re always here to help. We’re family. And it’s interesting—most of the businesses down here are woman-owned, and I love that.” The sense of family extends to V.C. Wares’ customer base, as well. Many of Cordy’s regular visitors have been shopping with her since she opened. She’s seen them grow up and return with their families. Even after the stress of the pandemic, V.C. Wares is thriving. What Cordy wants most for her customers is an enjoyable visit. “We want them to leave even better than when they came in,” she says. “We have wonderful customers, and our goal is to be a place where people can come and have fun—their happy place, a place for inspiration. So everything we bring in, we hope will bring joy.”