As we enter the end of July and August, many New Canaan residents will bear the beach, mountain, and city traffic for annual summer vacation trips. With the decreased foot traffic, many merchants routinely describe business as slow during this time. NewCanaanite went around town to some local businesses to see how they actively avoid the end of summer sales slump. Phil Williams, New Canaan Music
“How do we deal with the New Canaan Business Clear? We’re staying open our regular hours, a lot of businesses close for a week or reduce their hours, but we keep our lessons going year round.
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.
The recent news that the Chamber of Commerce is no longer sponsoring the Pop Up Park has left its future uncertain. While volunteer organizers are scrambling to obtain permits, insurance and town approval, a 2015 debate of how the park affects local business has been reignited. We spoke to several businesses in the area to hear their thoughts. Helen Richards of Odesmith & Richards Boutique on South Avenue describes the park as a “pleasant idea” but in the “completely wrong place.” Her concerns revolve around how the park affects nearby businesses, saying “it blocks traffic and impedes commerce where it is.”
She referred to a letter written by area merchants a few years ago. “The merchants have been complaining about it for a long time,” she said.
Phyllis Weinstein did not purposely name her 10-week-old golden retriever ‘Tahoe’ because the puppy reminds her of a well-loved, recently deceased dog that for years greeted customers at the family’s iconic New Canaan shop, Mackenzie’s on South Avenue. Yet the name ‘Tahoe’ is similar to ‘Tango’—who died April 16 at age seven, days after an unexpected diagnosis of an aggressive cancer—and Weinstein said she’s pleased with the similarity. In fact, Weinstein said on a recent afternoon, the similarities already seem to go well beyond their names. “The interesting thing is that my dog Tango used to love to pick up a huge stick and carry it through the Mianus River Park [in Stamford], nobody could believe it,” she recalled. “So now we have this puppy just three days in the backyard, and he was turned away from me doing something, and when he turned back he has this huge branch and he’s walking through the yard.
To help promote the 2015 Books, Blues, and BBQ party to benefit the New Canaan Library, the event’s committee members are encouraging residents to post on the library’s Facebook page photos of themselves wearing a favorite cowboy hat. “Over the years, cowboy attire has become associated with this important fundraising event,” Holly Parmelee, committee co-chairperson, said in a press release. “It is common that party-goers come decked out in cowboy hats and boots. So we thought it would be fun to encourage community members to show their support for the library and the event by posting a photo of themselves wearing their favorite cowboy hat.” See the gallery above for some familiar faces around town that are already participating. ***
Some disturbing news here: We’re hearing that some residents of Spring Water Lane last Wednesday discovered ‘#WhiteLivesMatter’ flyers, in Zip-loc bags and weighed down with rocks, on top of their mailboxes.