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West Hartford Business Buzz: December 2, 2019

Homegrown Studio will be opening at 463 Prospect Ave. (aka 1026 Boulevard). Photo credit: Ronni Newton

A round-up of openings, closings, and other news about West Hartford businesses.

By Ronni Newton

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

I looked back at the intro to this column from a year ago – when I had copied much of what I had written the year before – and for the most part I could copy and paste it again because once again so much of what I did this year for Thanksgiving was the same.

Once again I participated in the “The Run” which is Nicole Moleti’s West Hartford alternative to the Manchester Road Race. There were more than 100 people this year, everyone gave a donation (suggested $10) which went straight to Komen New England, and it wasn’t even too cold outside!

For the second year in a row I did not host Thanksgiving dinner. Thanks to Katie’s future mother-in-law, Shirley Redman, for once again hosting a combined family dinner which was so much fun! And just like last year I did still get to make one of the turkeys and my favorite mashed/sweet potato dish.

As we have for the past several years, Ted and I went to Nantucket the morning after Thanksgiving to visit my in-laws. We walked on the beach, went to the tree lighting and carol sing Friday night in town (didn’t see presidential candidate Joe Biden this year, although he was there), ate lots of food, and did some Small Business Saturday shopping.

Millie wasn’t quite old enough to really appreciate the beach in August, but this time she loved it! Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Just like last year, neither of our kids could join us in Nantucket – but unlike last year when we were really missing Scarlett, this year we had a dog with us! It was Millie’s second visit to the island, but when we brought her in the summer she was only 2 months old and could barely manage to even walk in the sand. This time, at 6.5 months old, she ran, and ran, and ran some more on the beach and had such a great time playing with us, and with a bunch of other dogs we met while walking.

We decided not to risk the combination of snowy roadways and post-Thanksgiving traffic, and headed home before dawn Sunday morning on a 6:30 a.m. ferry. That’s way too early for this night owl, but we did see a beautiful sky as we were leaving, and we made it back to West Hartford without hitting too much traffic and long before the flakes started flying. I even got to Stop & Shop before it began snowing, and as I write this there is a pot of turkey soup simmering on the stove that will be ready in time for dinner.

The sky really was purple when we were leaving Nantucket early Sunday morning. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

We were only away for about 50 hours, but arrived home to December, to full-fledged holiday season, with many houses already covered in decorations and even Christmas trees in the windows.

It’s snowing and Millie wasn’t quite sure what was happening at first, but as I write this she is now outside catching snowflakes on her tongue. Really.

As I wrote in my editorial in the most recent edition of West Hartford LIFE, traditions change and evolve, but that’s okayed doesn’t make them any less special. As this season of thankfulness and giving really gets underway, I hope to appreciate those traditions and focus on the joy, not the craziness of this time of year.

I hope to take some deep breaths, and enjoy the sights, sounds, tastes, smells, lights, and spirit of the holiday season. And whatever holidays you celebrate, I hope you can do that, too.

If you have tips about businesses opening or closing, or doing something worth sharing, please provide that information in the comments or email Ronni Newton at [email protected].

Here’s this week’s Buzz:

  • Build-out is underway, and 463 Prospect Ave. (aka 1026 Boulevard) in the Boulevard Shops, a space that was formerly Craft Beer Cellar, is being turned into a new children’s process art studio, Homegrown Studio. According to owner Meredith Magee Donnelly, who said she is very excited about opening the studio and introducing it to the West Hartford community, “Homegrown Studio focuses on process art activities and sensory exploration for children ages 10 months to 12 years. Our goal is to create a welcoming, fun environment for all children, parents and caregivers to explore art in a fun atmosphere. The goal is process art is to focus on the the creating and exploring of materials rather than the end result.” Donnelly has a masters in early childhood education and 17 years of teaching experience, and in addition to offering play-based learning in the studio, will host unique birthday parties and pop-up classes for entire families to enjoy. While the space is not completely ready yet, registration is open now for the winter session of classes, beginning the week of Jan. 5, 2020. There are daytime options for children ages 10 months through 5 years old, as well as drop-off options for older children on Mondays and “Family Fun Afternoons” on Tuesdays from 4-5 p.m. Class information can be found on the Homegrown Studio website.

    Ballet Theatre Company Artistic Director Stephanie Dattellas stands in the corner of what will be additional space for the company in January. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • Stephanie Dattellas, artistic director of West Hartford’s Ballet Theatre Company, is excited to share the news that the company is going to be greatly expanding their space in January. BTC is located at 20 Jefferson Ave., and will be taking over an additional 60-foot-by-54-foot space across the hall in the same building. “It will be part studio, classroom, rehearsal space, and can easily be transformed,” Dattellas said. There will be four rows of auditorium seating, which will be a great space for open house, Dancing for a Cause, scholarship competitions/critiques, and Greater Hartford Arts Council meetings. They will be able to expand class offerings, and class size as well as outreach opportunities to organizations like the current program that serves 15 students (more boys than girls) through HANOC right now. The Bridge Family Center, Boys and Girls Club, and a local autism organization are interested, Dattellas said. Now in her third year as artistic director, Dattellas said she has made programming changes as well, including adding a full ballet rather than a repertoire performance in the spring to augment the BTC’s traditional “Nutcracker” – which has some unique West Hartford touches like a Noah Webster doll and Blue Back Speller ballerina. This year’s spring performance will be a theatrical/ballet dance program – combining contemporary modern dance, jazz, and several types of ballet, loosely following the actual life of dancer Fernanda Yamaguchi based on anecdotes she has shared, and set to the music of Frank Sinatra. Yamaguchi, who will play the Dew Drop Fairy in this year’s “Nutcracker,” is one of BTC’s seasonal dancers and visits the studio to train at least once a week. A native of Brazil, Yamaguchi studied at the Bolshoi in Brazil before moving to New York as a student about six years ago. “I’m so excited. The company’s ready to grow,” Dattellas said.

    Stay LLC Co-founders, Michelle Hollander (left) and Nancy Hunt. Courtesy photo

  • Stay, LLC, a fitness company which was established in West Hartford in 2017 by Managing Partners Michelle Hollander and Nancy Hunt, have just created and introduced a unique aromatherapeutic yoga grip spray called GET A GRIP. “This innovative grip spray is plant-based, cruelty-free, and safe for people and the environment. Designed especially for the powerful yogi to combat the dangers of slipping on a yoga mat, GET A GRIP is infused with natural aromatherapeutic scents to enhance your yoga experience,” Hunt said. The spray adds tackiness to the palms of the hands and soles of the feet to increase stability on the mat and other surfaces without chalky residue, and the “eucalyptus and peppermint aromatherapeutic scents that adds to the mindful yoga experience,” Stay LLC said in a news release. “There is nothing worse than feeling your palms casually sliding away from you every single time you adjust yourself in downward facing dog,” said Hollander. “Whether you know your hands are prone to sweating, slipping, and sliding during your yoga flows, or you just want a secure mat with better friction, this grip spray will keep yogis in place and more focused for an improved practice,” added Hunt. “This spray can be used before practice on dry hands or during class when your hands and mat are already wet.” Stay currently operates in the continental U.S. with plans to expand into other markets by next year. For further information visit www.stayandgetagrip.com, and follow @stayandgetagrip.
  • The next WeHaHA comedy show is Dec. 7, is a fundraiser for the Conard and Hall DECA clubs, and will feature headliner Ray Harrington. According to his bio, “Ray Harrington is an infectiously likable comedian who performs across the globe. Harrington has turned his awkward and un-led stumble into manhood into hilariously irreverent material and marvelous improvisational riffing that embraces the uncomfortable and the absurd with a smile. His documentary BE A MAN won the LA Comedy Festival and was featured as ‘New and Noteworthy’ Internationally on iTunes before premiering on Hulu. His first album from Stand Up! Records, The Worst Is Over, debuted at the top of the comedy charts on Amazon and iTunes. His latest album, Overwhelmed, debuted at Number 1 on Amazon and at the top of the Billboard Comedy Charts. Ray was named Best Comedian by the Providence Phoenix, was selected for Comedy Central’s ‘Up Next’ Showcase, was a finalist in the Boston Comedy Festival, and was invited to host the International Filmapalooza Awards in Hollywood. He was awarded Best Documentary at the LA Comedy Festival as well as the SNOB Film Festival, and premiered his film BE A MAN at the New York Comedy Festival. Ray has been heard on nationally syndicated radio along with Sirius/XM and he’s been seen on Hulu, ABC, FOX, and SBS Australia.” Click here for more information or to purchase tickets.

    Courtesy blumshapiro

  • blumshapiro Foundation recently presented $55,000 in grants to 25 nonprofit agencies serving families and children throughout Connecticut. Representatives of the agencies gathered at blumshapiro’s Connecticut headquarters in West Hartford to receive grants in support of their work. “The grants represent the Foundation’s focus on supporting families and children in need based on the wishes of blumshapiro employees.  In the last four years, the blumshapiro Foundation has awarded $250,000 in scholarships, memorials and employee initiatives.  In addition, the Foundation has donated $105,000 to qualified 501(c)(3) organizations through its new grant-making process initiated in 2018,” the company said in a news release.

    Submitted image

  • West Hartford resident Ashley Washburn, who runs the organization Asante Sana for Education, supporting educational and other programs in Tanzania, will be hosting a holiday open house and African Art Sale fundraiser on Dec. 14 and 15, from 2-7 p.m. More details are on the flier!
  • ICYMI, Experience We-Ha has just published the Top 8 events for December! Click here for details.
  • It’s one of the Top 8, but I also want to be sure everyone remembers that Thursday, Dec. 5, from 5-8 p.m. is the annual Holiday Stroll in West Hartford Center and Blue Back Square, a don’t-miss event for the entire family. Full details can be found here.
  • I hope everyone will consider doing at least some local shopping this holiday season, and to add incentive the West Hartford Center Business Association is holding a “shop small” giveaway contest for $1,500 in gift cards through Dec. 4. Click here for details.
  • Have you seen the mural on the Juniper Homecare building in Elmwood? It’s amazing and such a wonderful addition to the neighborhood. Read the full story here.
  • Futures Inc. will be holding a Good Cause Gifts holiday pop-up at its West Hartford headquarters on South Quaker Lane on Friday, Dec. 13. Click here for details.

Remember, if you have any business news to share, add it in the comments section below or email Ronni Newton at [email protected].

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