As the holiday shopping season approaches, officials toured New Haven stores and called on residents to shop locally.
Karen Lin, Photo Editor
On Monday morning, elected officials visited three small businesses in New Haven to promote local shopping for the upcoming holiday season.
The event began with visits to downtown businesses – More Amour Boutique, Gray Matter Books, and Neville Wisdom’s Fashion Design Studio. In front of Neville Wisdom’s, Mayor Justin Elicker, Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and business owners made remarks. Speakers highlighted how local purchases support New Haven’s economy while helping to build a stronger urban community.
“Product quality, diversity, creativity are all here in our city,” said DeLauro. “It’s about enabling our local economy to thrive.
Speakers praised the positive impact of small businesses on local employment. Bysiewicz cited that in 2020, small businesses in Connecticut employed 745,000 people, or more than 48% of the state’s workforce.
Bysiewicz added that for every dollar spent on a small business, 68 cents stays in the immediate community and that local businesses are more likely to donate money to local schools and charities.
For example, Neville Wisdom, owner of Neville Wisdom’s, teaches children in many schools and classrooms, organizes outings on site and organizes charity fashion shows. Sam Burton, owner of Gray Matter Books on York Street, joked, “You can buy me a book, and that money will be in a pool hall. It is to stay put.
Store owners added that their products and services are not available at large retailers.
“We opened the store to sell different clothes that wouldn’t fly anywhere else,” said Gerald Poole, who works at More Amour Boutique. The clothing shelves contain unique pieces like army green suede tracksuits, fur-lined denim jackets, and brown quilted coats.
Likewise, Neville Wisdom deviates from the norm by offering handmade clothing – some of which, according to Bysiewicz, contributed to his victory as governor in 2018. Wisdom, who began designing and creating clothing at 15 in his small rural town in Jamaica, said he combines necessity and originality in his pieces.
“All of our places have things you won’t find anywhere else,” Burton said. “If you are looking for something with character, and you want to fight against the homogenization of culture, come to our stores.
His own store, which is full of stacks of uneven, multi-colored books, buys and sells new and used books.
During the pandemic, the three businesses became particularly vulnerable due to closures and the absence of students on campus.
“We were basically distributing books during the pandemic,” Burton said. “When we reopened after the pandemic, it was touch-and-go for a while. But the past nine months have been very strong.
As the holiday season approaches, city officials added that local shopping eases the stress of gift selection.
“A lot of people aren’t like me,” Elicker said. “I hate shopping. When you descend into this environment, you feel less stressful. You see welcoming new faces, you don’t wait for things to happen. Come downtown, and it’s actually more fun than you think! ”
All three companies are part of The Shops at Yale.