New Canaan’s Suzanne Nardi had been looking at a commercial space in Westport to launch a new art- and home-oriented business when an opportunity popped up here in town just a few months ago.
A former online brand marketer who developed her own interior decorating business while raising two kids, Nardi heard from a friend that the owner of Ally-Bally-Bee on Elm Street had taken a new job and was looking for someone to take over the handcrafted gift shop.
Nardi had been a patron of Ally-Bally-Bee and liked the co-op model shop at 134 Elm St., and saw an opportunity to assume an established business in a commercial space already fit out where she could make her own mark.
“I felt like it was meant to be,” Nardi said Tuesday morning as deliverymen dropped off a package of the carefully selected merchandise that she’s laying out in a reimagined sales floor.
“I am feeling very nervous and very excited,” she said. “I just want to open the door. Once the door is opened, I feel like I’ll be able to relax.”
Open less than two years, Ally-Bally-Bee garnered a loyal following among New Canaanites, many of whom lamented the prospect that it may close.
Nardi is the new owner of the business, and she’s reopening the shop March 22.
A graduate of Pace University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in international business, Nardi is a certified home-stager whose plans for Ally-Bally-Bee including building on the co-op model by bringing in more local artists while rearranging the shop’s floor plan so it’s “a little more geared toward gifts.”
“If you know you want a gift, you come right in and we’ll just make it a little more obvious for the customer,” Nardi said of her plans for the shop. “A few things will be packaged to just take right with them and labeled so that they know exactly where to go if they are looking for a baby gift or if somebody got married or it’s someone’s birthday.”
At the same time, Nardi said, visiting Ally-Bally-Bee will continue to be a special event for its patrons, who will still be able to peruse various artisans’ handcrafted items.
“I love the handmade genre, I appreciate that,” Nardi said. “I look forward to finding handmade things that are really high-quality, as well as on-trend. Anybody that I talked to loved this shop. They enjoyed walking around.”
Nardi has shared her plans with Tucker Murphy and Laura Budd of the New Canaan Chamber of Commerce.
“She intends to complement the business with some new products all the while retaining what worked well there under Morag’s direction,” Murphy said, referring to Ally-Bally-Bee’s founder. “We welcome Suzanne to Elm Street and look forward to working together.”
Nardi first moved to New Canaan in 2003 and her two kids, now 18 and 20, attended South School. She and her husband moved back to town after a stint in Boston and they’re active parishioners at St. Aloysius Church, where their kids went through the youth program and went on retreats. She also serves on the board of the Cardinal Shehan Center in Bridgeport.
Nardi describes her own taste as “casual, modern and definitely with a little bit of an edge.”
Asked about her long-term plans for Ally-Bally-Bee, she said, “I am going to see where it takes me.”
Nardi continued: “I’m going to see if the art is accepted, if my style is accepted. I kind of look forward to that. I will move with whatever the customers tell me, so it will be fluid and dynamic. No matter what works, I want it to always change and keep it fresh.”
Artisans seeking to talk to Ally-Bally-Bee owner Suzanne Nardi about selling through the co-op shop can reach her at SuzanneNardi@AllyBallyBeeNC.com.