When Glenn P. Adams and Arthur Dabu Jimenez moved their antiques retail store and gallery Tongue in Chiqúe into the ground floor of Bridgeport’s American Fabrics Arts Building last fall they had few business connections in the neighborhood. However, any fear of isolation was quickly dashed.
“People called to say, ‘Welcome to the neighborhood. Welcome to Bridgeport,’ ” Adams recalled.
Adams and Jimenez opened their business in Hudson, New York, in 2015. Before collaborating, Jimenez ran his own design business out of Manhattan and would take clients on shopping excursions to the upstate city. After multiple trips, he purchased a home in Hudson initially for weekend getaways, but it later became his full-time residence after teaming with Adams, a real estate professional weighing a career change.
Tongue in Chiqúe was originally based in a converted warehouse that they shared with other antique dealers.
“We were the fifth dealer in there and it grew to 40 dealers,” Jimenez said.
The duo quickly began to attract buyers who traveled many miles to find their merchandise.
“A lot of clients came up from Westchester and Fairfield County just to see us,” Adams stated. “When we decided to move, it was a decision to be closer to most of the people we were serving. After long, long searches, we settled on Bridgeport. It’s a great community and it is close to where we want to be.”
The new Tongue in Chiqúe covers 4,600 square feet that Adams estimated was roughly 1,000 square feet larger than their Hudson location. Nearly every inch of the space is filled with an eclectic range of items covering different eras and geographical cultures with prices ranging from a $20 paperweight to a $45,000 tapestry.
“We love almost everything,” Jimenez laughed. “We want to gravitate to everyone’s taste rather than one taste.”
The duo encourages shoppers to think outside of the proverbial box when acquiring pieces for their homes or offices.
“You can combine looks,” Adams advised. “If you love the pieces, it’s all going to work — you’ll figure it out. If you live in a mid-century modern house, you don’t need all mid-century modern furniture. If you live in an 1800s house, you don’t need all 1800s furniture.”
“But you can have a beautiful piece of art that is $5,000 or $10,000 and another thing that is $60 and they can complement each other,” Jimenez added. “We love how the past can complement the present — and that can be the looking glass into the future.”
Tongue in Chiqúe’s location can also be seen as the past complementing the present while aiming for the future. The American Fabrics Arts Building was originally built in 1909 as a lace manufacturing plant and its Stygian exterior offers a reminder of Bridgeport’s gritty industrial past. Today, the upper floors of the building are occupied by offices and lofts belonging to visual and creative artists while an oversized sign hanging on a fence bordering the facility’s parking lot highlights Tongue in Chiqúe’s presence therein.
They opened their business in time for the Bridgeport Art Trail event on Nov. 9 and hosted a grand opening celebration on Dec. 7. Jimenez noted that while he would have enjoyed a more vibrant first few weeks, he acknowledged that “like any beginning there was definitely a risk. But we like taking a risk.”
Adams is planning to raise the location’s visibility by offering classes that will enable people to create and market their own furnishings.
“I am a woodworker and make furniture,” he said. “I would like if people can come in and make their own items and take a class on selling.”
The duo has not been forgotten by the place they left behind in upstate New York.
“Some customers from Hudson came down to visit,” laughed Jimenez.