New Haven

Only in CT: Supporting New Haven Small Businesses Online & in Stores

New Haven has launched a "Shop Small, Shop Local" initiative for the holiday season.

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If every picture has a story to tell, Teah Muller has heard thousands

“We’ve been in New Haven since 1934. It’s been in my family since the mid-60s,” said the manager of her family’s company, Merwin’s Art Shop.  

For decades, the Chapel Street store has been helping community members preserve memories.

“Customers bring us sort of unusual things that are special to them, that have sentimental value to them,” said Muller

But like so many local small businesses, this year has been tough,

“It’s been different this year. Of course, we’re so grateful to be here, to be operating, but it’s certainly been slower for us.”

After months of closed doors, stores like Merwin’s are hoping you’ll shop local this holiday season to make up for the lost time.

“If you’re stuck in your home, your apartment, whatever, you know. Here’s something to do that’s a little bit different,” said Matt Fantastic of Elm City Games.

The gaming store owner says sales have been steady during the coronavirus crisis as people look for ways to pass the time, but they had to shift a lot of their sales online with a curbside pickup option.

“There’s a bunch of games that you can play remotely, so we have a lot of people that are playing games with Zoom.”

Wednesday, New Haven city leaders celebrated the creation of a virtual marketplace.

As the busy holiday shopping season gets underway, local cities are encouraging residents to shop local and small to help businesses struggling amid the pandemic.

Shoppers can “Shop Small, Shop Local” from the comfort of their couch.

“You’re one click away from shopping at 100 different New Haven places,” explained Win Davis of Town Green District at the city’s virtual news conference.

But for those who feel safe shopping in stores, local leaders say stores in the Elm City have taken the proper precautions and there are incentives too.

Merwin’s Art Shop and Elm City Games are two of more than three-dozen stores participating in New Haven’s passport program.

Spend at least $25 at four different locations and you are entered to win a prize.

While New Haven economic experts say they’ve had more small business open than close this year despite the pandemic, the next couple of months will mean a lot to the community,

“If we come out and support each other, the way we’re talking about through the holiday season and through the winter, that we will lose very few businesses by spring,” said Deputy Director of Economic Development Steve Fontana.

“Get off Amazon and come down or go online, however you do it. like spend that money that you’re going to spend anyway, spend it here,” said Elizabeth Donious with Westville Village Renaissance Alliance.

So the picture perfect holiday gift could help with the frame-work for the future.

“It is unique and it is special right?” said Muller about buying a custom frame or print as a gift.

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