Five Connecticut retail businesses and their owners are currently being featured in a national video campaign highlighting the economic impact and customer experience that characterize today’s retailing industry.
Connecticut-based small business owners Tom Wholley of Connecticut Mattress, Kimberly Pedrick of idiom boutique, Vishal Patel and Onyeka Obiocha of The Happiness Lab and Chris Zane of Zane’s Cycles talk about a day in the life of a small business owner and the rewarding experience of working in retail.
From its humble beginnings as a furniture-making workshop to becoming the world’s leading interior design company, Danbury-based Ethan Allen is a pioneering force in the retail industry. CEO Farooq Kathwari, featured in the video series, takes viewers through the evolution of the brand and its strong ties to New England culture and community.
As Connecticut Retail Merchants Association CEO Tim Phelan says, “Retail in Connecticut is a great story.” The videos highlight how retailers large and small are creating jobs, driving innovation and giving back to the communities they serve. “There are retailers across Connecticut, in the malls and on Main Street, that make Connecticut’s economy come alive.”
The National Retail Federation hopes to ultimately feature retail business owners in all 50 states in a project that began in 2014. Connecticut is the 10th state to be featured, with the videos recorded in 2015 now accessible on the organization’s website at www.nrf.com/retailacrossamerica/ct.
“In Connecticut, we were able to capture some of the industry’s most inspiring and powerful retail stories from hardworking and dedicated small business owners in the state,” NRF President & CEO Matthew Shay said. “This series of the campaign is testament to Connecticut’s retail legacy and highlights innovative companies that continue to demonstrate the versatility and diversity of the industry.”
According to NRF’s Retail’s Impact data, there are an estimated 472,518 jobs supported by retail in Connecticut and a total of 41,900 retail establishments across the state. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) impact in Connecticut is $34.2 billion – 14 percent of the state’s total GDP. “One out of every five people is supported by a job in retail,” Phelan said.
Zane’s Cycles founder Chris Zane told NRF: “Connecticut is more than a great place to do business, but also a great place to enjoy the environment, culture, infrastructure and the arts.” He operates stores in Branford and Fairfield.
Ethan Allen CEO Farooq Kathwari spoke of the diverse and dynamic retail landscape in Connecticut that makes it so unique, noting that “dedicated people do great things.” idiom owner Kimberly Pedrick always wanted to open up her own store, and Connecticut made it possible. Her business, idiom boutique, is located in the Historic Chapel Street District of New Haven, curates high-quality collections with apparel, footwear, handbags and bath and body.
The Happiness Lab, also in New Haven, is described as “the world’s only coffee shop dedicated to happiness,” with 100 percent of profits aimed at helping coffee farmers build sustainable solutions to problems so that they can “breakout of the cycles of poverty.”
Connecticut Mattress owner Tom Wholley is a well-known name in Connecticut’s retail industry, and currently chairs the CRMA Board of Directors. His company has retail locations in Avon, South Windsor and Southington. Wholley thrives on the challenge of retail and responding to customer’s needs, noting that “Retailing is in my blood – it’s been in my blood for 40 years.”
Of Connecticut, Phalen said “It’s a great place to live, a great place to work and a great place to shop.” Added Pedrick, describing Connecticut’s retail business community, “I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”