A round-up of openings, closings, and other news about West Hartford businesses.
By Ronni Newton
Last week was certainly a weather rollercoaster!
Early Saturday morning I did my last long run in preparation for next week’s half marathon, and boy, was it cold! I thought I might be able to make it all the way through my training without wearing gloves but on Saturday morning not only did I have to dig out my gloves, but I also wore leggings and jacket. I forgot an ear band, and regretted it for the first few miles. Thankfully the weather warmed up later in the day, and it was sunny – perfect for the Park Road Parade. (See the great photo gallery from Hunter Marotto here.)
Many area churches held “blessing of the animals” ceremonies over the past few days – celebrating St. Francis Day in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals. Our church, St. James’s Episcopal Church, was one that invited companion animals to attend a service for a blessing, and we brought Millie on Sunday morning.
There was quite a cacophony at the service – held in the parish hall (where there is a laminate floor) rather than in the church itself – but I will have to say that the kids were louder than the occasional woofs from the 30 or so dogs that were present. At not quite 5 months, Millie was the youngest pup there, but she was really well-behaved.
And although Millie has now been blessed by Asst. Rector Charlotte LaForest, we think we are the ones blessed by having this puppy in our lives.
One more thing I want to say – and my apologies if this sounds preachy – but I hear and read a lot of complaining when local businesses close. It’s easy to blame others, and many chose to blame our legislators.
It happened with ShopRite, and it’s happened almost every time either a family-owned or even a national business closes up shop in West Hartford.
Do you know what our local businesses need more of? Our business. People say they love the idea of shopping local, but then sometimes it’s so easy just click and have what you want delivered to your door in a day or two. I do it, too.
When you’re supporting local businesses, however, you are supporting your neighbors and you’re making your own town a better place in which to live. West Hartford Center is a cool place, and this town is a vibrant community because it’s not all generic chain stores and restaurants, but store owners can’t continue to operate if people go there to browse and go home and order similar stuff from Amazon.
I listened to last week’s Experience We-Ha podcast, and on Friday I stopped by Blueprint CT Home because I HAD to have the WeHa Connecticut bag (which directly benefits industry in Bangladesh, holds 135 pounds worth of stuff, and is wax-lined so it can be cleaned easily) that was shown in the photo. The women who handcrafted my bag are paid Fair Trade wages, and they get annual profit sharing and a retirement fund. And I found so many cool things in the store that I could never find anywhere else. One-of-a-kind gifts and accessories are available, at a variety of price points. I’m definitely going back to shop there again.
I’m sure I will say it again as the holidays approach, but if you care about local business owners, then please shop locally when you can.
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:
- West Hartford Coworking has relocated from the Center to the New Park Avenue corridor, and now occupies about 4,000 square feet on the ground floor of a building owned by the Greater Hartford Association of REALTORS that (literally) sits on the West Hartford-Hartford line at 430 New Park Ave. At a ribbon cutting Thursday with West Hartford Mayor Shari Cantor, Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin, and members of the West Hartford Chamber of Commerce and Metro Hartford Alliance, Co-owner and Managing Director Annisa Teich could not contain her excitement as she welcomed a huge crowd to the event. Teich, who purchased the 3-year-old business in the spring along with her mother, Annette Farese, and that in addition to offering a variety of coworking space (plus free coffee and snacks), West Hartford Coworking will be home to The Content Lab. “It’s a first-to-market space,” Teich said. “[It’s] meant to be a place where independent small businesses can upload content,” she said. White it’s not a “professional” recording studio, Teich said The Content Lab, with is a partnership with Nonee Ngazimbi-Cunningham of Connecticut Bloggers Collective, will have all that many influencers and other small business people need, including a ring light and stand, iPad, iPad/smartphone stand, pull-down backdrops, podcast microphones, and stylish, flexible furniture and decor inn the 16- by 18-foot space to set the scene. Just like a conference room, the space is rentable by the hour. Nan Price of Innovation Destination Hartford, a veteran storyteller and owner of the business “Uncommon Content,” will be one of the first to produce content in the lab, and will release “Uncommon Conversation” in the late fall. Teich said that the art on the walls of West Hartford Coworking has been custom-designed for the space based on important local figures, and she noted that a new panel series, #makeitinCT, will be launched beginning Nov. 6 with a session entitled “Small but Mighty.” “We need these spaces where start-ups can really start,” Bronin said at the ribbon cutting. “We’re all going to benefit from your innovation,” Cantor said. “This corridor has so much potential … and the seeds that will be planted here will land and grow.” For information, visit the West Hartford Coworking website or email [email protected]. Many more photos from the ribbon cutting and of the space itself can be found below.
- The West Hartford Chamber of Commerce also held a ribbon cutting ceremony at Achieve TMS East last week. Located at 18 North Main St., Achieve TMS, which offers “Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (dTMS), a non-invasive procedure that uses magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the brain to improve symptoms of depression” has opened its first Connecticut location in West Hartford. Patients wear a customized cap for the procedure, which takes place in 20-minute daily sessions over the course of about 7 weeks and is administered by a certified technician. The technology is similar to what is used for MRIs, and may also be used for treatment of OCD. Look for a feature story coming soon.
- A temporary banner is now hanging (I happened to be walking by last week while it was being installed) above the doorway to the future home of Cookshop Plus at 58-60 LaSalle Rd. in West Hartford Center. I got a quick peek inside, and while drywall is still being installed, it’s at that phase where the rest of the finish work can happen quickly. According to a post on Cookshop Plus’ Facebook page, they expect to begin the move from 977 Farmington Ave. on Oct. 14, and at that point will be closed for about a week. “We are excited for the new space which will have a full kitchen for cooking classes and will see us join forces with [JRene Coffee] who will be operating the new and improved Coffee Bar! It will be business as usual at our current location up until the move – We appreciate all your support as we transition to the new space,” Cookshop Plus wrote on Facebook.
- The sign is now up for the AT&T store that will be opening in the former Icy Rolls location at 56 LaSalle Rd. in West Hartford Center. Look for details when the opening date is announced.
Pilates Defined (1143 New Britain Ave.) is hosting a donation class for the Keep A Breast Foundation, a nonprofit organization with a mission to empower young people around the world with breast health education and support. In a press release, owner Jessica Fritz Peters said, “We’re joining forces with Keep A Breast to get #Fit4Prevention! Did you know that 30 minutes of exercise 3-4 times a week lowers your risk of developing breast cancer by 30-50 percent?” The “fun and flowing mat class that will not only make your body feel good, but also help Keep A Breast continue to empower young people around the world with breast health education and support” ($20 donation suggested) will be held on Saturday, Oct. 12, at 9:15 a.m., and 100% of proceeds will be donated. Click here to reserve a space online, or call the studio at 860-899-1515. Donations can be made by cash or check, by texting FIT536 to 71777, or online here.
- West Hartford-based SIGHT (17 South Main St.), owned by West Hartford resident Dr. Melissa Lambright, has now opened a second location. The SIGHT Multispecialty Center is now open at 10 Birdseye Rd., Suite 120 in Farmington, and to offer “a continuum of optometric and sensory care that, according to a press release, will “provide comprehensive services from traditional wellness exams to rehabilitation services for vision-related medical conditions. Serving patients of all ages, SIGHT Multispecialty is the only center of its kind in the state to offer a holistic approach to vision care, treating visual acuity and function through targeted, goal-oriented therapies including vision therapy and sensory integration occupational therapy.” Conditions treated include concussion, visual vertigo, stroke, autoimmune/inflammatory diseases, Lyme Disease, sensory processing issues, learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder, autism spectrum disorder, and gross/fine motor coordination disorder. For more information on the SIGHT Multispecialty Center, visit www.sight.net or call 860-231-8482.
- The space at the northwest corner of Farmington Avenue and North Main Street, which was the location of Farmington Bank until it merged with People’s United last year, will soon be the location of JPMorgan Chase Bank, which earlier this year began an expansion into the Hartford area. JPMorgan Chase has applied for permits for some renovations, and an opening date is TBD.
- It’s the last day for Best of West Hartford voting! Businesses are counting on the support of their clients and customers, so click here to vote for your favorite business in a variety of categories! If you have questions, please contact Tom Hickey at WHMedia ([email protected]or 860-508-4032).
- Congrats to West Hartford resident Molly Prospect, who was recently promoted from assistant director of Admissions to a new role of director of Marketing Communications for East Catholic High School. Prospect is a 2016 graduate of Assumption College and is pursuing her master’s in strategic communications from Central Connecticut State University. She and her husband, Daniel, live in West Hartford.
- Today’s sad news is the closing of Skeleton Key and its associated restaurant, Deadbolt. The adventure emporium, which was located at 61 Raymond Rd. in Blue Back Square, and had another location in Lynnfield, MA, which also closed, sent out an email to its mailing list on Tuesday and offered its last escape room adventure on Sunday. “The whole business is folding,” said Skeleton Key Entertainment President Ryan Knowles in a phone interview. “Unfortunately it’s a case of need some sale, expansion, and investment to continue. Knowles said that it was a difficult decision to make for the business which opened just over a year ago. “We enjoyed being part of the West Hartford community,” Knowles said. Company owner Ray Weaver also owns Muse Paintbar, which has dozens of locations including one in West Hartford’s Blue Back Square, and that business is doing just fine, and will not be impacted, Knowles said.
- ICYMI, check out October’s “Top 8” events in West Hartford courtesy of Experience We-Ha! 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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