The couple transformed the residence into a store, which is now home to elegant Swarovski crystal jewelry, darling Precious Moments figurines, detailed Department 56 model homes and many other popular lines of collectibles. Called China Connection, the shop caters to gift-givers for all occasions (Christmas is the busiest.) and the devoted collectors.
"I used to have about 20 collectors when the economy was good, now I'm lucky if I have two," says Appel.
Today most of her customers buy for others. She offers crystal gift registries for brides-to-be, who come for the Waterford Crystal and Lenox, and expectant mothers, has an impressive collection of Disney-themed figurines.
As businesses continue to disappear in West Hempstead, Appel, a mom of three West Hempstead High School grads, hangs on. She is doing her best to encourage residents to shop local by sending out postcards and displaying curbside signs.
China Connection truly is a diamond in a rough economy; a hidden gem of local history and a crystal-filled cavern of wonders that still promises to meet or beat the prices you'll find at big name stores. For these reasons, it earns a place on our top 100 list of things to do in Malverne and West Hempstead.
We suggest you stop by, browse and perhaps pick up a gift for a special lady in your life this Mother's Day (They'll even be open this Sunday, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m., for all those procrastinators.) You'll avoid the mall stress, probably save money and still find a beautiful present that will also help support the merchants in your community. Sounds like a win-win.