Comina, anchoring Larkin Square near Watch Hill harbor in Westerly, gives summer shoppers a taste of the eclectic and sophisticated inventory of handcrafts from around the globe or, as the store’s tagline says, The World Next Door.
The name Comina comes from the store’s founder, Jacomina Nicholas. Born in the Netherlands and having lived in Europe and Latin America in the 1960s, she possessed an extraordinary sense of color and style and brought the same to the nine family-run stores that continue her legacy. She started her first store 26 years ago in West Hartford. The Watch Hill business at 117 Bay St. is in its 20th year, while the Mystic location at 27 W. Main St. is newer and larger.
Intricate designs are recreated into beautiful serving trays by Peruvian artisans using an ancient process of reverse painting on glass called églomisé. The technique requires adding foil paper between the painted glass and the frame, creating a luster. Small trays go for $42, while larger ovals are $145.
Frames from Florence, Italy, with gold or silver leaf and painted details make for a one-of-a-kind gift, as no two are the same. Smaller frames are $42.50, with larger ones at $62.50.
Everything is handcrafted from around the world and every piece has a story, according to Mystic store manager Paula Ritacco. Colorful Riviera Bags, tagged as “a feel-good bag with a feel-good story,” are made in collaboration with a group in remote Southern India that gives women opportunities to learn skills, while reviving tribal crafts and making some money.
Run your hand across the incredibly soft “Baby Mo,” a lemon-yellow South African kid mohair throw that looks like cotton candy (sans stickiness), priced at $295. Handmade pillows made here in the northeast and a selection handcrafted in India run about $50.
Interior designers also shop here, filling orders for high-end upholstered furniture, unique décor and custom rugs. Italian woven leather benches crafted especially for Comina in red and yellow make a great statement and offer comfort, too, with the large red bench priced at $365 and a smaller version for $245.
Comina also carries an extensive line of Mariposa tableware—the shiny, sculpted, recycled aluminum with distinctive lines. Looking for something boaty in which to put your famous hors d’oeuvres? Check out the Mystic display of a small sectioned boat, nested in a larger sectioned boat with a sweet, oar-shaped spreader.
You’ll find Swedish linens, Mexican tile mirrors, Ecuadorean jewelry, Vietnamese bamboo bowls, Zimbabwean painted tin lions, Californian glass jug cylinder lamps, Seattle beeswax candles and a lot more.
“People come in from all over the world,” Ritacco said. “A lot of people would like to take our products home with them in their suitcases.”
Now, though, they also can order online rather than figuring out how to haul that assortment of pillows on the plane or the train.