10 Great Last-Minute Christmas Gift Ideas from New Canaan Shops [GALLERY]

We’re entering the home stretch of Christmas shopping in New Canaan, as most every holiday shipping date has past. For anyone looking for great last-minute gift and stocking-stuffer ideas, we’ve created the gallery above—covering everything from $5 squishies for the kids to a $3,600 six-liter bottle of wine for the grownups. Though it’s not meant to be exhaustive—for example, we left off favorites such as the New Canaan Chamber of Commerce’s gift cards, New Canaan Historical Society’s ornaments and Philip Johnson Glass House’s design store items—the gallery represents a good cross-section of downtown merchants. As Laura Budd from the Chamber’s offices above the Playhouse on Elm Street said: “From our office on the ’50-yard line’ and from our interactions with store owners and managers, we know that New Canaan shoppers have embraced the ‘Shop Local’ movement. We know this is in no small part due to the tremendous effort the local businesses put in to the ‘experience’ of shopping here in New Canaan.

Organizers Suspend Pop Up Park after Some Merchants Raise Concerns

The committee that developed, managed and advocated on behalf of the Pop Up Park downtown—recently securing approval to keep it in place through the summer—is suspending those plans indefinitely after a group of merchants in town voiced opposition. According to a letter obtained by NewCanaanite.com that’s signed by 16 business owners downtown—most of them retailers, including Elm Street Books owner Susan Rein and Pimilico owner Jill Saunders (see full letter below, as well as those who added their names to it)—the Pop Up Park in occupying the final block of South Avenue at Elm Street obstructs traffic, blocks parking and displaces an important loading zone. While complimenting Pop Up Park Committee members for their passion and diligence, these merchants say, the park itself “hampers business” because its visitors do not patronize local shops and restaurants. “If it continues much longer, the small-town charm of New Canaan’s downtown is going to be overrun by big box chains just like many other towns in our area,” according to the letter, dated June 1. “The look of the Park does nothing to enhance the visual appeal of town,” the letter said.

Did You Hear … ?

The New Canaan Preservation Alliance on Sunday afternoon presented awards to two individuals and five properties in its eighth annual Awards Ceremony, sponsored by Halstead Property. Speakers included Rose Scott Long, the outgoing president, state Sen. Toni Boucher, NCPA Founder and past President Mimi Findlay and Rachel Carley, an historic consultant hired by the Alliance to continue the inventory of New Canaan’s historic houses. The gallery above spotlights award winners, including NewCanaanite.com for the Media Award—a huge thank-you to the NCPA! ***

Manfredi Jewels at 72 Elm St. is holding its Grand Opening party from 12 to 7 p.m. Friday and 12 to 5 p.m. Saturday this week, following an invite-only celebration Thursday of its special collection of Rolex timepieces.

What New Canaanites Are Reading This Summer

Unless she’s buying a gift, New Canaan resident Toddy Turrentine said she generally waits for books to come out in paperback. Yet one of the very best she read recently—a work of fiction that Elm Street Books manager Kathleen Millard calls “probably the biggest read of the summer”—was Anthony Doerr’s “All the Light We Cannot See,” a Mother’s Day gift from her husband. “I loved it,” Turrentine said on a recent afternoon while perusing titles at New Canaan’s independently owned bookshop, Elm Street Books. Generally speaking, Millard said, paperback books do well in the summer “because nobody wants to go to the beach and get suntan cream” on a nice hardcover. It’s been a very good year for books, she said—one telltale sign being that many have lingered in hardcover, meaning they’re selling well—and more very strong releases are due out in September.