HAMMONTON - Being a new business owner can be trying and scary, a time of uncertainty the investment will pay off and customers will walk through the door.
Like nearly 20,000 New Jersey companies created in 2010, Tonilyn Peditto's business - a designer consignment store in Hammonton now called Shop Around the Corner - was in this familiar position. But within four months, Peditto faced an entirely different challenge.
She was diagnosed with breast cancer in spring 2011, just months after the business - then called Consignment Couture - opened in Hammonton's downtown district. There were long, frequent trips to Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, chemotherapy that zapped her strength, and the mental strain of battling cancer.
Through it all, Peditto, 48, of Hammonton, resolved to stay positive and stay in business.
"The positive outlook is a big thing as far as surviving any kind of illness or anything you have been dealt. Not to say I didn't have my moments … but if I looked at it any other way, then I would have never gotten out of bed, and I would have closed. I would have never kept my business," she said.
"My main thing is this is not getting me. I walked around with no hair, I wore eight different wigs. I wasn't going to become breast cancer; it wasn't going to define who I was," said Peditto, who owns the business with fiance Joe Ziccardi, 48.
She was able stay in business, she said, with the help of friends including Colleen Mortellite and Megan Donahue, family and other Hammonton business owners who showed support and helped man the store when she could not.
Mortellite said it was apparent Peditto was focused on keeping the business running even as extensive treatment, including a bilateral mastectomy, took its toll. Peditto kept her humor throughout.
"Her sitting there having her chemo, she knew her store was open, she knew someone would call her if there was a problem," said Mortellite, 48, of Hammonton. "I think that always got her through everything, having somewhere to go and something to do."
Peditto's mother and a friend had started Consignment Couture in October 2010, but soon found it to be too much, Peditto said. Peditto had extensive retail experience, including having worked as an independent sales rep for Puma, and bought the business in January 2011.
Just four months later she noticed a lump during a family fishing trip in Maryland.
She kept a blog throughout her treatment. A post from January 2012 announces, "I am cancer free!"
Last year, Peditto decided to expand and moved from Bellevue Avenue to a 2,200-square-foot location on nearby Central Avenue, about twice the size of the original.
The business sells designer handbags and clothes, including prom dresses, on consignment. As part of the expansion, it also rents space to other merchants selling products such as handmade embroidered scarves, unique decorations and candles, as well as a mobile spray tanning operation. She also uses a service for organic dry cleaning.
About a month ago, Peditto changed the name of the business to Shop Around the Corner - it is a short distance around the corner from its original location.
Romantic movie buffs and Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan fans will recognize the name. It is a reference to the 1940 Jimmy Stewart classic "Shop Around the Corner," and the name of Ryan's character's bookstore in the 1998 remake, "You've Got Mail."
Contact Brian Ianieri:
Shop Around the Corner
Location: 14 Central Ave., Hammonton
Owners: Tonilyn Peditto, 45, and Joe Ziccardi, 48, of Hammonton
Revenue: Not disclosed