Local Merchants

In New Canaan, local merchants aren’t just people who sell us things: They’re our neighbors, our high school classmates, our kids’ youth sports coaches, our friends and often they’re the first people in town to give of their time, expertise, products and services to support human services organizations here.

Recent Articles

Locals Gear up For ‘Taste of the Town Stroll’ on Thursday

Residents are gearing up for a popular event downtown that’s designed to showcase local businesses while raising food for the New Canaan Food Pantry as well as gently used eyeglasses and hearing aids for the Lion’s Club of New Canaan. The eighth annual “Taste of the Town Stroll” runs 6 to 8 p.m Thursday and will feature more than 15 stores, businesses and restaurants offering food and prizes. To earn a map of those locations and participate in the Stroll, people should bring (unopened and unexpired) goods—such as coffee, juice boxes, crackers, pasta sauce, canned stew, canned chicken, mayonnaise, tea bags and family-sized snacks—to the area out front of the Playhouse on Elm Street. 

For those seeking a one-stop shop for an appropriate donation for the pantry, Walter Stewart’s Market has generously put together bags of goods with a retail value of $30 that the cornerstone New Canaan business is selling for $20. “It is our pleasure to team up with the Chamber and support this fun event again this year,” said Doug Stewart of Walter Stewart’s. “We hope to help stock the New Canaan Food Pantry with much-needed groceries.” Continue Reading →

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Unwelcome Sight: New Parking Plan for Elm Street Takes Shape

An unwelcome change to parking on Elm Street in New Canaan has materialized in the form of thin strips of white paint. Though the permanent striping on New Canaan’s main business road is yet to come, public works officials have drawn the outline of a new parking arrangement over the recently repaved Elm Street that will see it lose 15 spaces. 

Prompted by a resident formally putting New Canaan on notice that the town was out of compliance with a little-known (and variously observed) state law that calls for a 25-foot buffer zone between a crosswalk and legal parking space—a notification that could open up the municipality to liability in the event of a collision—officials studied the parking plan on Elm Street and, reluctantly, approved revisions that respect the statute. Last week, residents got their first look at the new “no parking” zones based on outlines in the asphalt, and the change is dramatic. 

It also means downtown New Canaan, always struggling to accommodate demand for parking between workers and visitors, soon will be squeezed even tighter. Laura Budd of the New Canaan Chamber of Commerce said the change makes it that much more urgent and necessary for those who work in both first- and second-floor businesses on Main and Elm to park in municipal lots. “Prime spots are for prime customers,” Budd said. Continue Reading →

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‘It’s Bittersweet’: Mackenzie’s Is Sold

Phyllis Weinstein and Jim Berry, owners of Mackenzie’s on South Avenue for 13 years, said Wednesday that they’ve sold the business to a young couple in the area. 

Though Berry will continue to work part-time at the iconic downtown New Canaan candy, party goods and specialty gift shop, golden retriever Tahoe and Weinstein herself will be out after this week, she said. “It’s bittersweet, but it’s time,” Weinstein told NewCanaanite.com. 

To the loyal and regular customers of Mackenzie’s, Weinstein said “thank you for making this 13 of the happiest years that I have had.”

“It was a real happy time to come here every day. I was a nurse and director of the Red Cross, so I worked in sad and serious situations my whole life, and to come here and be with happy, upbeat people, it was a thrill.”

A Stamford resident, Weinstein added that what she’s enjoyed most during her stewardship of Mackenzie’s has been “watching the kids grow up and blossom and see the parents.” Through 13 years, the owners have seen New Canaan kids rise from kindergarteners to high school seniors and beyond. “It’s been a relationship,” she said. “It’s like watching your own kids grow up and it’s really special.”

Known during the school year as the primary Friday afternoon destination of Saxe Middle School kids who pile their backpacks outside the door, Mackenzie’s came to Weinstein and Berry when their son purchased more than a decade ago, and they kept operating it even after he took a different job some years ago. Continue Reading →

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Biz on Biz: Club Sandwich Spotlights Walter Stewart’s, Toy Chest

Club Sandwich has occupied its Cherry Street space for more than 30 years, and is a trusted mainstay for its tasty sandwiches, drinks and snack offerings. In 2008, Leo Gaspar took over management of the establishment with his wife Jennifer playing an active role in the business as well. Asked about her favorite products and services offered by other local businesses, Jennifer Gaspar spotlighted Walter Stewart’s Market. “We grocery shop there,” Gaspar said. “They’ve remodeled and it looks really nice.”

As a mother, Gaspar noted the high quality of Walter Stewart’s selection. Continue Reading →

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Elm Street To Lose 15 Parking Spaces

The one-way stretch of Elm Street, commercial heart of downtown New Canaan and home to many of its most cherished (if in some cases struggling) local businesses, as soon as next week will lose 15 parking spaces due to its lack of compliance with a little-known state statute. New Canaan long has operated outside a 1949 state law that says, “No vehicle shall be permitted to remain parked within twenty-five feet of an intersection or a marked crosswalk thereat.”

Yet recently, when the Department of Public Works removed the parking striping on Elm Street in order to put in a layer of protective seal, a resident put town officials on formal notice that the existing spaces violated that law, since they were too close to the five crosswalks on Elm between Main and Park Streets.  (more…) Continue Reading →

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