Mark Gust To Retire from Family Britches after 50 Years; Store Closing June 30

Mark Gust started working for Family Britches in January of 1972. He was 21 years old, having graduated from Chappaqua High School and with two years at Villanova University under his belt.

Gust worked at the original Family Britches in Chappaqua, N.Y. for about two years and then came to New Canaan when the company opened a store on Elm Street. On June 30, Gust will retire from his career as a buyer and store manager for the clothing shop, which will close with his retirement. “It’s exciting,” Gust told on Tuesday from the sales floor at 99 Main St. “It’s sad.

‘His Legacy and Impact Will Live On’: New Canaanites Remember Don Hersam

For Steve Karl, there’s a very short list of New Canaanites whose contributions to the community in business, civic matters, faith and philanthropy exceed what anyone conceivably could imagine in terms of commitment and longevity. They are “the rare residents who have created a legacy and body of work that the rest of us just sit back and wonder how they could possibly have that much time, that much energy and that much love for one place,” according to Karl, himself a lifelong New Canaanite. “Don Hersam was one of those extremely rare individuals,” Karl said this week, days after V. Don Hersam, Jr. passed at age 92. 

“He was the soul of the community,” Karl told “The centerpiece of the 06840 Mt Rushmore,” he continued. “He loved New Canaan, respected its rich history, and consistently endeavored to make it a better place to live, work, and raise a family.

Local Holiday Shopping Boost: Town Designates Free Parking in Municipal Lots Through Dec. 27

The town has designated free parking in all municipal lots through Dec. 27, officials say. Members of New Canaan’s Parking Department are placing signs on meters in town to let shoppers know they don’t need to pay. Carl Franco of Francos Wine Merchants on Elm Street said he was “very happy that the Chamber of Commerce worked out with the town free parking for all municipal lots.”

“I think that will be very inviting for the shoppers to give one last boost to all the merchants in town,” Franco said. The designation, which took effect Monday, follows an unexpected loss of some parking and traffic difficulties late last week due to utilities work on Elm. 

Laura Budd, executive director of the Chamber, said the “last few days before Christmas are very important to our retailers.”

“The Chamber and the municipality wanted to remove all barriers to our residents and visitors who are shopping local for all their last-minute holiday gifts,” Budd said.

Local Business Q&A: Francos Wine Merchants

In today’s installment of our Q&A series with a local business, we hear from Carl Franco of Francos Wine Merchants on Elm Street. Here’s our exchange:

I imagine we’re in one of the very busiest times of the year at Franco’s. How are things going? Things are moving right along. The holiday rush starts for us in November as Thanksgiving is a big wine and spirit holiday. The way the calendar falls this year with Christmas on a Saturday means we only have three shopping weekends in December so it’s going to be a very condensed shopping season.