Lidia and Paul Corey of Bethel opened the doors of their business, Vital Rain, in late April, giving Newtown and area customers a brick and mortar outlet for the line of all natural baby, children, mother, and pet products they have been selling online and at craft shows since 2013. Located at 83 South Main Street in Newtown, Vital Rain is more than just a retail store filled with bath and body, herbal teas, and other wellness products. A generously-sized children’s playroom to one side of the retail section provides shoppers with a pleasant area for small children to play while the adults browse. Adjacent to the checkout is a sunny section of the store, where comfortable chairs welcome those in need of a break. A selection from the Vital Rain herbal tea line is set up on a small table there, and a pot of hot water is always bubbling. Customers are invited to use the free Wi-Fi at Vital Rain.
They came, they listened, and hopefully, a critical mass of representatives from Newtown’s leading manufacturing and related companies departed an early June breakfast forum with ideas about how various state and federal support agencies could help them sustain and grow their businesses in town. On the morning of June 4, more than two dozen business leaders, including several company principals, founders, and CEOs, packed the meeting room at My Place for a 90-minute networking session and breakfast, highlighted by four special guests representing the US Department of Commerce, and Connecticut’s Departments of Labor, and Economic and Community Development. After a round of introductions from guests who attended on behalf of local companies, including Rand Whitney, Advanced Fusion Systems, Sonics, Architectural Glass, SMT Corporation, Tier One, The Taunton Press, Wind Corp, and Curtis Packaging, the speakers each took time to relate how their agencies stand ready to promote local manufacturers’ success and sustainability.
There is no “Rita” at Rita’s of Bethel, the “Ice Custard Happiness” store that opened February 17 in the Stony Hill Corners plaza, at the corner of Route 6 and Hawleyville Road. “Rita” is an acronym for Respect, Integrity, Trust, and Accountability, all values of the iced desserts store owned by Irene and Joe DeAngelis. The Philadelphia-area-based Rita’s Italian Ice franchise is one of two — with two more scheduled to open soon — owned by the DeAngelis family. Inside the bright and cheerful storefront, customers can choose from 16 flavors of ice each day (including two sugar-free flavors), four custard flavors, plus shakes, gelati, sundaes, and Blendinis — a shake of ice and custard flavors. Twenty toppings or mix-ins range from peanuts to Gummi Bears to hot caramel. In the freezer, takeout selections include cakes and cookie treats.
The Toy Tree, a fixture in Sandy Hook Center for nearly a decade for local toy and game purchases, relocated May 10 to 14 Church Hill Road in the plaza at the corner of Queen Street and Church Hill Road. Owner Tracy Schmid and manager JoAnn Whiting are thrilled that the additional 300 square feet they now have, plus 12-foot ceilings, allows them to offer new lines of merchandise and expand popular lines, such as Legos, which they have always carried. “We now have space for the line of Estes model rockets, Dunecraft, a gardening line for kids, and the Giving Keys jewelry line,” said Ms Schmid.
The Newtown Chamber of Commerce continues to host free monthly networking events open to all local business professionals. The next event will be held at Sal e Pepe Contemporary Italian Bistro on Wednesday, June 18, from 8 to 9 am. The guest speaker for that meeting will be Stan Perrone of Kesco Electric & Home Improvement. Mr Perrone’s presentation is titled “The Three C’s of a Great Business: Community, Charity, Customer Service,” and will include a discussion of how significant these three elements are to maintaining a stable and productive business.
Since February 14, customers have been pouring through the doors to sample the fare offered at Barnwood Grill, 5 Queen Street, nestled next to the Bottle Stop and Caraluzzi’s Newtown Market. The official opening for Barnwood Grill was February 12. Then one of last winter’s many storms shut down the restaurant the following day for 24 hours, said owners Simi Polozani of Newtown and Denard Brahimag of New York. It was just a brief pause in what has otherwise been a successful opening, they said.
“We’ve been very busy. People like the décor, the food, and the atmosphere,” Mr Polozani said. This is the first restaurant for Mr Polozani and Mr Brahimag, but between them, they have 25 years experience working in other New York and Connecticut restaurants. “We’ve always wanted to open our own restaurant,” Mr Polozani said. When he saw that the Queen Street space was open, it took him only a week to talk his friend into delving into the restaurant business.
CrossFit RedZone, a fitness center focused on “every domain of fitness,” according to owners Kurt and Kris Kling, has relocated as of April 1, to 3 Simm Lane, Unit A, located just past the Newtown Car Wash. Look for the CFRZ logo on the door. CrossFit RedZone (CFRZ) occupied a 2,000 square-foot space at 31 Pecks Lane since April of 2012. The move to Simm Lane gives the brothers 5,500 more square footage to provide clients with more workout space and options, as well as ample parking. CrossFit is a style of fitness that offers an opportunity for each person to work out to his or her fullest potential in group settings. Members can select from up to 13 classes at the center each day.
Helping others achieve balance in their lives is the goal for holistic health practitioner Kim Rio. Ms Rio has practiced nutrition, health, and wellness counseling since 2011. In September 2013, she opened her office at 107 Church Hill Road in Sandy Hook Center. Kim Rio Nutrition Health Wellness offers a nutrition counseling program with a holistic approach. “I treat the whole person, instead of just assisting with a diet plan or providing just a weight program,” Ms Rio said. “It’s about counseling and helping people add health to life in many ways,” she said.
The Northern Fairfield Professionals, a networking group focusing on people in transition, will have its next meeting Tuesday, May 13, from 5:30-8 pm. The group will be in the Knights of Columbus building, 46 Church Hill Road (to the east of the St Rose Church sanctuary). Join the group for networking, followed by a presentation at 6 pm by Michael Shavel, a career counselor with the Connecticut Department of Labor, on “The Advanced Resume.” There is no admission charge.
The Newtown Chamber of Commerce is continuing its free monthly networking activities open to all local business professionals. The next event will be held at Sal e Pepe Contemporary Italian Bistro on May 14. The guest speaker is Ron Bellenot, of Bellenot & Boufford LLC, who will present "Five Mistakes Small Business Owners Need to Avoid.”