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West Hartford Business Buzz: May 6, 2019

BiCi Co. will be opening in the retail space on the ground floor of 616 New Park. Courtesy photo

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

By Ronni Newton

How about if I just copy my first paragraph from last week’s column: “Maybe if I don’t talk about the weather it will stop raining. I sure hope so, because although we have had some nice spring days – or parts of days – it’s rained almost every day, too.”

Apparently, not talking about the weather didn’t help. And I have been on Nantucket this weekend, where it is even colder and rainier than it is in West Hartford. I honestly think I am getting moldy.

Ted and I came out here for our annual spring trip to get our family home ready for the summer rental season, and we were extremely productive getting indoor projects done. When we were working outdoors – during the brief time it was only misting and not pouring – we were not even tempted by the thought of checking out the beach. I have never failed to go to the beach while on Nantucket, even in the winter, and I am hoping we at least can walk to the end of the path to the beach before we have to leave.

The remnants of Daffodil Weekend in the center of Nantucket’s Main Street are very soggy after days of rain. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

As I write this on Sunday afternoon, I am actually drinking a mug of hot tea. I don’t like tea, I mean I really don’t like tea, and I never drink tea. But I’ve been drinking way too much coffee (which I really do like) and after spending about an hour shopping in town – in the pouring rain, with gusty winds and temperatures in the mid-40s – I was chilled to the bone and needed a warm beverage.

It was great to see my in-laws! And Ted and I actually went for a nice (albeit quite rainy) run together, which we rarely do because he is so much faster than I am. He’s nursing a tweaked calf muscle, however, and running with me is like a necessary rehab assignment on a Single-A team. Of course he’s still faster, and pushed me to complete one of my fastest runs in quite some time.

I’ll be back in West Hartford on Monday – if the winds aren’t so bad that the ferries stop running, which looks to be a distinct possibility – and am hoping that the promise of sunshine and 70-degree temperatures really happens.

One last item, and this one is totally unrelated to the weather.

I have said this before, but I get a lot of press releases – often as many as 30-40 per week. I do my best to get as many of them posted, in as timely a manner as possible, but the more complete a submission is, the more likely it will be published. Here are some guidelines:

  • Please send submissions in Word or with the text pasted into an email, and send them to [email protected]. If you send press releases through the “contact us” portal on the We-Ha.com website, or through Facebook messenger, it makes them hard to track and sometimes they get forgotten.
  • PDFs do not copy and paste very well, and it’s very time-consuming to reformat them.
  • Fliers on their own cannot be published.
  • Since we have three newsletters a week, which are a combination of reported news and a few press releases, when I have to choose from among the 30-40 submissions, I am more likely to post a press release that does not require a lot of re-formatting.
  • We need to have an image, preferably a photograph, that is in .jpg or .png format, and it should not be embedded into a document because it cannot be extracted in high enough quality to appear as a feature photo on the We-Ha.com site.

Thanks for listening!

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:

  • The ground floor retail tenant for 616 New Park has been announced, and it’s going to be a great use of that space! BiCi Co., which according to its websitewas created by the Center for Latino Progress in June 2015 to provide an opportunity for hands-on bicycle education and service learning projects for 30 summer youth interns,” is planning to open their second location in West Hartford. “We are a social enterprise organization focused on youth and workforce development,” Joseph Dickerson, program manager with BiCi Co., told me in a phone interview. The West Hartford operation will be the lead tenant in the 3,250 square foot space at 616 New Park, where they will sell and service bicycles and bike accessories, and provide employment and enhanced workforce and skill development opportunities to some of the youth who have been trained at the 97 Park St. facility in Hartford, as well as to new program participants, Dickerson said. In Hartford, BiCi Co. has a robust “Earn-a-Bike” program, as well as DIY repair hours, and other courses. In West Hartford, there will be similar programs, including wheel-building, basic bike maintenance, and more. “We really value people getting to know us,” Dickerson said. There will be programs for adults and youth, and sponsored bike rides in throughout the area for adults and families, focused not so much on high end equipment and athletics, but rather “reconnecting people with the joy of bike riding,” said Dickerson. Inventory will focus on bikes and equipment for commuters and casual cyclists, as well as fitness enthusiasts – “not just the spandex crowd,” said Dickerson. It will be a full-service shop, and inventory will include bikes for sale that are useful for an urban environment, including electrified bicycles, and a robust repair operation that will offer same-day service with early drop-off and late pick-up options unique to the Greater Hartford area. BiCi Co. partners with local businesses including St. Francis Hospital, Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, and Trantolo and Trantolo that fund free bike helmets for youth, and helmets will be available in West Hartford as well. The BiCi Co. space at 616 New Park will also include a fitness studio, with bikes on trainers for indoor cycling, and will offer small group fitness classes utilizing equipment like kettlebells and dumbbells, as well as  yoga. Dickerson said there will likely be a partnership with a coffeeshop that will share the space in the future. “It’s great to be in a location in the Elmwood neighborhood, near CTfastrak, the Trout Brook Trail, etc.,” said Dickerson. Permits for build-out are in progress, he said, and BiCi Co. hopes to open in June.

    Moscarillo’s new 15,000 square foot greenhouse is now open. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

  • Moscarillo’s Garden Center & Florist in Bishops Corner held a grand opening on Saturday, officially celebrating their brand new greenhouse which has replaced two smaller greenhouses on the property. The new 15,500 square foot greenhouse is on the back of the building but visible from Albany Avenue, where one of the two older greenhouses was previously located, and the new structure is the largest retail greenhouse in the state, Moscarillo’s owner RJ Domack previously said. The new greenhouse has been constructed with steel trusses and glass all the way around, and a roof that opens to allow the hot air to escape, eliminating the need for a large number of fans. Let’s house the weather cooperates for all of the outdoor gardening that so many of us are anxious begin.
  • I don’t have too many details yet, but I had heard last week that the owner of Lou’s Automotive in Elmwood was retiring, and then heard the good news that Jack Lyons and Amy Lyons McCarthy, who own the Lyons Phillips 66 in Bishops Corner, have purchased the business and will be taking it over!

    From left YHB employees Florcita Bedon and Renee Zerio and Nancy Stockman, Food Pantry Coordinator. Submitted photo

  • West Hartford center based YHB Investment Advisors, Inc. (29 South Main St.) recently organized a collection for the West Hartford Food Pantry. “We are so grateful to the employees of YHB for their continuous support. Our donations have slowed down so these food items will help us keep the shelves stocked,” said Nancy Stockman, Food Pantry coordinator. The YHB team is committed to help supplement the West Hartford Food Pantry’s non-perishable needs. For additional information about the Food Pantry – which relies on the donations of individuals and local organizations, visit their website please visit their webpage
  • May 5-11, 2019 is “National Small Business Week” – a time when the Small Business Administration “recognizes the critical contributions of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners.” The West Hartford Chamber of Commerce said in its weekly newsletter that this is a great time to make an effort to support your local Chamber members and area small businesses.

    Bob Kagan and Joan Walden. Photo credit: Karen Ritzenhoff (submitted photo)

  • Congratulations to West Hartford resident Joan Walden, who was one of 55 faculty members named to the 2018 Excellence in Teaching (EIT) Honor Roll at Central Connecticut State University. “In 2002 Bob Kagan hired me to teach a course at MCC,” she recalled. It was the beginning of my second career as a college instructor, and I have found it to be a meaningful and stimulating occupation.” Walden has taught writing, film studies, public speaking and other communication courses at the University of Hartford and Tunxis Community College. She has been an adjunct in CCSU’s Communication Department since 2009. Presently, she is working there full-time as an “emergency hire.” Robert “Bob” Kagan, an Avon resident and decades-long part-time instructor at CCSU, was presented with the 2018 EIT Award. The award reads in part: “In recognition of your dedication to the success and fulfillment of your students as lifelong learners and of your deep commitment to the primary academic mission of Central Connecticut State University.”
  • This isn’t really business news, but it’s West Hartford-related and I think it’s pretty cool! If you’re heading up to UConn this coming week to pick up a student who has finished finals (which I will be doing on Saturday), or for graduation, check out the striking new sign that creates a dramatic gateway as you approach the campus on 195 from I-84. The sign (see photo below) was installed Saturday, and according to an article in UConn Today: “The sign is five individual letters (eight-feet high and two-feet deep each) that make up the familiar UConn wordmark and are made of structural aluminum. The size and durability of the letters will be perfect for people to sit on, pose and take photos, and soon will feature landscaping enhancements and night-time illuminations. The project was funded in part by private philanthropic donations from a UConn family – Michael [Cantor] ’80 (ENG), ’83 JD and Shari Cantor ’81 (BUS) of West Hartford, Connecticut. Shari is a member of the UConn Board of Trustees, while Michael previously served on the Board of Directors for the UConn Foundation.”
  • Today’s sad news is the announcement by Linda Goldberg of the Beadoir and Toy Dog Accessories at 968R Farmington Ave. in West Hartford Center. “After 25 years in the Center I have decided not to renew my lease for a sixth time,” Goldberg said in a message. She will begin her store closing sale on May 20, and continue the sale as long as inventory remains, or until the lease expires on Aug. 31, 2019.
  • ICYMI, there is a great Mother’s Day contest going on, sponsored by Face It Medical Aesthetics & Spa and with some fabulous prizes donated by other West Hartford businesses as well. Nominations are due on Wednesday, May 8. Details can be found here.
  • West Hartford-based blumshapiro sponsored the sixth annual JA Career Walk in West Hartford Center on Friday. About 20 students from Conard and Hall got an inside look at local business. Read the complete story here.

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

Like what you see here? Click here to subscribe to We-Ha’s newsletter so you’ll always be in the know about what’s happening in West Hartford!

New UConn sign on 195 has been funded in part by the Cantor family and was installed on May 4, 2019. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

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