Chris Kilbane Sells ‘New Canaan Toy Store’ After 22 Years

New Canaan’s Chris Kilbane had been working in New York City for about 12 years, creating pharmaceutical products, when he spoke one afternoon to the owner of New Canaan Toy Store while shopping there with his son Ryan, about five years old at the time. Innocently, Kilbane asked the owner if she’d ever consider selling the place. She responded that in fact she had, that Kilbane seemed like a nice guy and they should talk. A week later, he owned the place. That was 22 years ago.

Preview: 50th Annual Village Fair & Sidewalk Sale

It’s been a tradition for many New Canaanites over the past half-a-century, and this year’s New Canaan Village Fair and Sidewalk Sale is shaping up to be one of the biggest yet. Running 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. this Saturday, July 18, the event run by the New Canaan Chamber of Commerce, and sponsored this year by William Raveis, is an installment that organizers say will have all generations talking. “It’s the 50th year of the event, and what we always have appreciated is that during that time it’s always been called the Village Fair and Sidewalk Sale, because it is a fair as well—entertainment for all shapes and sizes,” Laura Budd, marketing associate for the New Canaan Chamber of Commerce, told “That’s something that differentiates New Canaan’s event from other surrounding towns.” “We have over 115 confirmed vendors for the day. There’s no bad seat in the house.

Did You Hear … ?

We’re hearing there’s a town DPW worker who enjoys Kahlúa in the morning. Locust Avenue resident Lauren Cerretani told that she named her 4-year-old rescued Labrador retriever mix ‘Kahlúa’ as soon as she laid eyes on the dog, adopted from the Myrtle Beach, S.C. area at age 13 weeks. (Cerretani’s previous dog was named ‘Bailey.’)

Each morning after 7 a.m., Cerretani walks Kahlúa downtown, and there, during the summer months, she inevitably spots Walt Jaykus of the New Canaan Department of Public Works. Jaykus’ duties include watering the hanging baskets on the lampposts, and he’s had a connection to Kahlúa since the dog moved to New Canaan. “My dog either spots his water cart or Walt himself and she’s pulling me,” Cerretani said.

SLIDESHOW: 20 Things You Only Know If You Shop and Dine in New Canaan

New Canaanites have plenty of reasons to shop and dine locally, and those reasons go far beyond the fact that the village center has scores of independent businesspeople—retailers, restaurateurs, service providers—who work here and have had a tough go with the weather these past few weeks. Our owners-on-site specialize in their fields and offer a wide range of expertise. They support most every community event that locals associate with the town—fishing derby, Waveny summer concerts, Santa’s visit, little league, Holiday Stroll, ice cream social, Halloween Parade. It’s hard to find two important community events in a row in New Canaan that aren’t sponsored in some way by Walter Stewart’s, Karl Chevy or both. Because familiarity breeds conversation and rapport, we can come to know our local small business owners and workers better than we may at, say, out-of-town chains. The slideshow above is a testament to that strong connection—click through to learn more about some of those who make up the economic lifeblood of the business district.

‘The Impact Is Staggering’: Downtown Merchants Make Case for Controlled Sandwich Board Allowance

Chris Kilbane, owner of downtown mainstay New Canaan Toy Store, first placed a sandwich board outside his Park Street shop after earning “Best Toy Store” honors from Moffly Media. The main idea, Kilbane told town planning officials Tuesday night, was to promote the Best of the Gold Coast designation. What he quickly discovered, however, was that the sandwich board helped steer foot traffic into New Canaan Toy Store—something that’s become increasingly important and more difficult for mom-and-pop retailers. “It seems so small, but the impact is staggering,” Kilbane told the Planning & Zoning Commission at the group’s regular meeting, held in the Douglass Room at Lapham Community Center. “You have to understand how it is to run a business in New Canaan at this point, or any brick and mortar store.