Cindy Bevilacqua’s shop in downtown Gainesville is filled with items her late husband — an avid collector of everything — picked up during their 35-year marriage.
A black novelty license plate with rainbow-colored letters reading “I’m a Toys ‘R’ Us kid” hangs on a wooden beam in Cindy Bevilacqua’s shop.
The sign used to belong to Salvatore “Sam” Bevilacqua, her late husband, but now it’s her favorite thing in her store, called Cindy B Goods.
“It epitomizes my husband,” the 60-year-old widow said. “That’s a really cherished item.”
Bevilacqua has a lot of treasures in her shop. Her husband collected most of them throughout their 35 years of marriage.
Among his collection is a set of Hess trucks and a World War II foot locker that belonged to a late Gainesville resident named Henry C. Hobday Jr., and a photograph of Dale Earnhardt rounding the final turn of the Daytona 500 alongside his son Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Michael Waltrip right before he was killed in a wreck in 2001.
These are just three of the many trinkets he collected over the years.
Bevilacqua said her husband would always bring home things from his adventures — no matter how mundane the errand might have seemed.
“He’d go to the dump and still find stuff to bring back,” she chuckled.
Bevilacqua said her husband’s hobby never really bothered her too much because, living on a 6-acre lot in north Gainesville, they had the room and he kept things mostly organized.
“We had plenty of room to keep all of his treasures,” she said.
Bevilacqua’s husband died three years ago from pancreatic cancer. After his death, she had to figure out what to do with all of the things he left behind.
She went through their shed, garage, barn and house. Then she made up her mind.
“This really needs some place to display this stuff.”
Bevilacqua tried to sell the items at flea markets and online markets like eBay and Craigslist, with the help of her 29-year-old son Dominic, but it wasn’t the right fit.
“It wasn’t something I could see me doing for any kind of extended period of time,” she said.
After a countless amount of prayers and questions, she finally got her answer: open up a shop to display and sell the items.
“God led me to this building,” she said. “I wasn’t looking for it, it found me.”
The store’s location, nestled in downtown Gainesville, and size was a perfect fit for her. She always loved this section of town, too.
However, the transition wasn’t the easiest. The space needed a lot of work, including updates on the lights, paint, floors, everything. The shop changed, and with it Bevilacqua, as well.
“We’re growing together,” she said.
The space also included a kitchen in the back. Bevilacqua plans to use it to open a café once she gets her approval from the state health department.
The Buffalo, New York, native loves to cook. Her husband’s Italian heritage left her with some good recipes to add to her personal collection.
“I kind of perfected my biscotti,” she said.
Along with the biscotti, Bevilacqua plans on serving cinnamon rolls, pepperoni pockets and spinach and cheese pockets on different days.
“When they’re gone, they’re gone,” she joked.
Bevilacqua will also serve a variety of drinks, such as teas and coffees.
For now, she’ll continue to live out her husband’s hobby. Bevilacqua’s store, at 1001 NW Fifth Ave., is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.