While many downtown shopping areas are crowded with national retailers, Darien is headed in the other direction. As more residents open stores, they’re fortifying our small-town roots.
Roots: Originally from Rowayton and now a Darien resident.
Why Darien?: “The idea became enticing when Darien started undergoing this renaissance with new restaurants and shops. When I was a kid there were just a few stores downtown.”
Challenges: “It’s tough to be the customer-service person with a friend. Mine is not a big business so I need to enforce return policies and the like. Although I’d always want to bend the rules for a friend, I couldn’t do that and run a successful retail operation.”
Perks: With her 5 and 7-year-old daughters at a local elementary school, she can still volunteer in the classroom or be available for emergencies.
Store’s Appeal: “I go out of my way to find new designers who are interesting and unique, designers you can’t find in nearby towns or department stores. I also work hard to find a range of price points so that there’s truly something for everyone on the racks.”
Wiggles & Giggles
Roots: Originally from Boston’s suburbs, now a Darien resident.
Why Darien? “I worked for the Rugged Bear for many years. I came to the Darien store often and realized this was a different kind of market. The town is really friendly to small retailers.”
Challenges: “You become totally associated with your store, which is nice but it also has drawbacks. It’s also interesting to be a working mom in a town where many women stay home, but it means that I get to see a lot of familiar faces, which is something I really enjoy.”
Perks: “It’s great to be able to run out for my daughter’s ballet recital and not miss a day of work. Also, there’s a palpable feeling of the community wanting you to succeed. People come into the store and tell me they’ve sent their friends here. I really feel welcome.”
Store’s Appeal: “My store is a place where you should bring your kids. The changing room is a tent and we have a play table. Shopping should be fun for children, too.”
Roots: Originally from New Orleans, now a Rowayton resident.
Why Darien?: “I had owned a store in Greenwich and Bedford, but I was really enamored of the thoughtful and tasteful way the development was being done in Darien. When I heard there was a space available I jumped on it.”
Challenges: None she’ll name. “It’s very similar to when I lived and worked in Greenwich. I bump into customers when I’m out and about, and I have the perfect commute. My store is casual and social, and many of my customers have become good friends.”
Perks: As the proud mom to four yellow labs, she appreciates being able to pop out now and then to take the pups for a walk.
Store’s Appeal: “In addition to the relaxed atmosphere, I also stock a great range of products from casual to dressy. Even though my average customer is 45 to 50 years old, I have customers in their twenties and seventies. There’s something for three generations.”