‘We Are Supporting Each Other’: New Canaan Merchants Keep Business in Town

When walking down Elm Street on a sunny Saturday afternoon, it is more than likely that one will hear a couple visitors from New York City or beyond lament that New Canaan seems to be ripped from an episode of “Gilmore Girls.”

Indeed, this town offers many of the same surface qualities as the fictional Star’s Hollow, with a beautiful downtown and quirky residents and business owners. The similarities go deeper, however; on the show, it is not uncommon to see Luke, the owner of the local diner, cross the street to buy supplies from Doosey’s Market. It’s a perfect illustration of local charm; these two small businesses support each other while also contributing to the integrity of the town. If it seems too good to be happening in real life, it’s not, and businesses right here in New Canaan are using the same model.

Take the Roger Sherman Inn, which was spared the wrecking ball earlier this year. The Roger Sherman has a rich history and dates back to the 1700s, when it was originally constructed (and even served as New Canaan’s first library). Though the inn faced an uncertain fate for a time, it has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity and is now buying its meats from the recently opened South Avenue Butcher.

“It’s mutually beneficial,” Nes Jaffre, one of the Inn’s owners, said. “It’s great to have this community where we are supporting each other.”

Added Mike Hutten of South Avenue Butcher, “We started doing business a couple of month ago. We provide them with all of their prime meats, steaks, burgers. Shop local, eat local.”

Walter Stewart’s Market also benefits from such partnerships, providing fresh fruits and vegetables to the smoothie bar at Oxygen Fitness as well as ready-made picnic meals to the Summer Theatre of New Canaan.

“We love the synergy of working together with New Canaan’s local businesses and organizations,” said Doug Stewart of Stewart’s Market and Stewarts Wine & Spirits.

“It’s a great distinction for us to provide fresh fruit and vegetables to Oxygen’s smoothie bar as their members and our customers have similar discerning tastes and of course many of our shoppers are Oxygen members and vice versa. We are also very pleased to continue our sponsorship of the Summer Theatre and the experience of watching a first-rate musical outdoors while enjoying a freshly-made picnic meal is a truly a New Canaan exclusive.”

Heidi Burrows, owner of New Canaan Olive Oil—whose brand has appeared on the menu at Locali on Forest Street—also has her products featured on the social media accounts of Franco’s Wine Merchants whenever the Elm Street shop uses them in creating dishes to pair with wines. Bankwell also tapped New Canaan Olive Oil for its holiday gifts last year, Burrows said.

“If there’s an opportunity to do business with another business in town, especially the established businesses, then they do it, which is really good,” Burrows said.

She’s spread the support, agreeing to place comfortable Against the Grain Adirondack-style chairs outside New Canaan Olive Oil.

“Sometimes it’s not even paid-for services—it’s just helping each other out—which is really nice,” she said.

Another example is New Canaan fixture Cherry Street East purchasing vanilla ice cream for its brownie sundaes from Baskin Robbins.

“It is fantastic because they make their own brownies and the sauce they use is so good,” Baskin Robbins owner Anna Valente-Krolikowski said of the Cherry Street East dessert.

According to Laura Budd of the New Canaan Chamber of Commerce, such relationships can only benefit the town.

“What more could a Chamber of Commerce ask for?” Budd said.

She cited contributions from mainstays such as New Canaan Music as well as Against the Grain to events at the Pop Up Park.

“Nothing about these relationships is forced, these are smart business people making good decisions which helps the community at large,” Budd said.

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