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West Hartford Business Buzz: June 24, 2019

Lovesac will begin build-out of the former Janie & Jack space at 99 Memorial Rd. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

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

By Ronni Newton

Happy summer!

Although I have been insisting it’s summer since meteorological summer arrived on June 1, astrological summer arrived at 11:54 a.m. on Friday, June 21. And even though I’m pretty sure it was chilly and rainy at precisely that time, there is no arguing that summer is officially here.

Note to Mother Nature: let’s have some more weather like we had this weekend. We can do without rain for a while, particularly the week of July 4th when I am at the beach.

While most of the weekend was spectacular, I heard it rained pretty hard in some places on Saturday, but not where I was – wedding dress shopping in Fairfield County!

As you read this, it is a year and three days until my daughter gets married (yikes!) and Katie, her future mother-in-law, my sister, and I spent Saturday wedding dress shopping in Darien and Westport.

I will honestly say that (other than when people were getting a big hangry) it was a magical experience seeing my daughter trying on beautiful wedding gowns. I wore my mother’s wedding dress, and never tried on anything else. We still have that dress, and while I am a fraction of an inch taller than my mother ever was, there really is no way a dress originally made for a 95-pound 5-foot-tall person will fit my 5-foot 7 inch daughter – so we are on a quest.

We went to three places on Saturday – one in Darien and two in Westport. The weather was spectacular, and we punctuated our appointments with a bit of shopping in Westport (where there are some stores like She-la-la that definitely should open a West Hartford location) and also took a break for margaritas/tacos at bartaco.

Katie said she hasn’t found THE dress yet, but has figured out more about what she’s looking for. And if you saw my social media post of her modeling a wedding dress, I was only allowed to post that one because she had decided it was NOT one of the ones under consideration.

Shopping will continue!

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:

  • There are weeks when I have a long list of items for this column well in advance, and then there are weeks when it’s Friday afternoon and I have no idea what the lead story will be. That’s when I especially love (key word here) hearing from someone like Blue Back Square Marketing Director Amy Cholowa, who told me Friday afternoon that a lease has been signed and construction is set to begin Monday on the build-out for Lovesac in the former Janie & Jack space at 99 Memorial Rd. I don’t have too many other details, but according to the website, Lovesac, which has only one other Connecticut location at this time (in Danbury), is one of the country’s fastest growing furniture companies. Lovesac, which is now publicly traded, specializes in “sactionals” and other types of endlessly adaptable couches. “This will be a terrific addition to our home décor offerings,” Cholowa said. Lovesac – which will be situated right between West Elm and Tempurpedic, and right across the street from Crate and Barrel – plans to open this fall. We’re in the market for a new family room couch so I am definitely looking forward to this opening! Click here for more information about the company.

    Annisa Teich (left) and Holly Callanan. Photo credit: ConnecticutHeadshots.com

  • Big news for West Hartford Coworking, which has announced plans to move from West Hartford Center to 430 New Park Ave., doubling their size to 4,000 square feet, and offering six private offices, a lounge, free coffee bar, free parking, and a cafe in a space that is styled like a “well-designed living room.” “We’ve grown out of our current space and want to continue with the trajectory of the business by providing our members with the affordable coworking amenities and personalized customer service they have come to expect from us,” said Co-owner and Managing Director Annisa Teich, who purchased the three-year-old company from founder John Vasselina in March. “While we sought to stay in West Hartford Center, and even within the town of West Hartford, we found the right space at the right price with the right partners at 430 New Park,” which is right on The Hartford/West Hartford border. The town line actually runs right through the building, which his owned and occupied by the Greater Hartford Association of REALTORS, she said. “While I was initially concerned, I realize a name is just a name and we are, in fact, still in Western Hartford,” said Teich, ”For many of our current and prospective members, the Hartford address is actually a benefit in applying for city and state-funded grants that are more difficult to qualify for with a West Hartford zip.” Greater Hartford Association of REALTORS CEO Holly Callanan said that West Hartford Coworking will be a great partner for their organization, and shares the common goal of  “revitalizing the neighborhood and improving the quality of life for the New Park Ave community. With Annisa’s high-energy and creativity, and our dedicated staff and members, this partnership was a no-brainer and the possibilities are endless.” According to Teich, most of the current tenants will be making the move, including Jenny Drescher and Ellen Feldman-Ornato of The Bolder Company, who will occupy one of the exterior offices. New members also include Shawna Kitzman, Ashley Rigby and Teri Michaud of the Jam Program, who are recent graduates of the reSET Impact Accelerator. Long-time member Maggie Beattie Roberts said, “As an independent literacy consultant and writer, West Hartford Coworking provides support for the many aspects of my job – a dedicated writing desk, conference rooms for meetings and recording podcasts, and like-minded colleagues to share small business tips and connections. As a small business owner, I’m thrilled to add my support by moving across town to join with others who are creating community and providing services in the New Park neighborhood.” For information on private offices and membership rates, visit www.westhartfordcoworking.com or email [email protected].
  • This column is not the place for announcing sales – except when it’s an entire business district that is hosting an event like the West Hartford Center Business Association’s sidewalk sale, which will be held from Thursday, June 27 through Saturday, June 29, from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. “Come to the Center to shop local, get great deals, and experience what West Hartford Center has to offer,” said Kimberly Mattson Moster, vice president of the West Hartford Center Business Association. The West Hartford Center Days sidewalk sale has been held for decades, and this year will include some serious bargains, with offers of up to 80 percent off merchandise at BK&Co., Daswani Clothiers, J.McLaughlin, Kimberly Boutique, kimberly  GIFT, Lux Bond and Green, Toy Chest, and others. Some stores have extended hours, or are open Sunday, so check with individual stores for more details, and visit www.whartfordcenter.com  for a complete list of participating retail stores. More information about West Hartford Center can also be found on Facebook or Instagram (@westhartfordcenter).
  • Speaking of West Hartford Center, the West Hartford Center Business Association is looking to hire a marketing and communications professional, and will be accepting proposals though July 12, 2019, at 4 p.m. Duties will include but not be limited to “creative development of advertising; marketing; social media; and support services for member businesses and public outreach activities,” with an anticipated time commitment of 10 hours per month. The entire RFP can be found below as a PDF. Proposals can be submitted either by email to [email protected] or by mail to West Hartford Chamber of Commerce, 984 Farmington Ave., West Hartford, CT 06107 Attention: Marketing and Communications Professional RFP.

    Courtesy ARTISAN West Hartford

  • ARTISAN Restaurant, Tavern and Garden has announced the return of its monthly garden parties from 5-7 p.m. on the last Thursday of each month, from June (hard to believe that this Thursday, June 27, is already the last Thursday of the month!) through September. The events will feature ARTISAN’s private label Rosé wine, craft cocktails, light bites, and music from a well-known DJ in a beautiful setting. Tickets are $25 per person (includes two drink tickets) and can be purchased online through Eventbrite (search Artisan Garden Party) or at the door. Dates are June 27, July 25, Aug. 29, and Sept. 26. More information is available on Facebook or by calling 860-937-2525.
  • West Hartford is blooming – with planters created by Knox Foundation delivered to neighborhood associations throughout town. The flowers are beautiful, and look for a feature story coming this week!

    Courtesy of Tatyana Nadgor

  • New Britain has been a-buzz with bees – a similar concept to the Cow Parade that West Hartford held several years ago (we actually had two cow parades here) – and one of the bees was lovingly sculpted and painted by artist Tatyana Nadgor, a West Hartford resident who is originally from Kiev and said she is a self-taught artist.  
  • ICYMI, the Brace Road parking lot will be converted to the kiosk system in early July, but rates will remain unchanged and the 30-minute grace period will remain. Click here to read the complete story.
  • Congrats to Deb Polun, West Hartford resident and Board of Education member, on her new position as executive director of CAFCA. Click here for details 
  • Congratulations also to Billy Grant, recipient of the Noah Webster Award from the West Hartford Chamber of Commerce Monday night. Many other individuals and companies were honored at the annual meeting and awards banquet, and complete details can be found here.

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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