Mystic – If the list of new tenants at Olde Mistick Village is any indication, Chris Regan is on a roll.
After all, as property manager of the venerable outdoor mall, it’s Regan’s job to maintain the place’s eclectic mix.
Try the beef jerky and Polish pottery vendors and a Gothic-themed bookstore plus an eight-chair barber shop and shop whose owner insists on selling ‘stuff’, i.e. clothes , accessories and gifts.
And then there’s a sixth outlet that defied predictions by opening during the COVID-19 pandemic and almost immediately did so well that it expanded into an adjacent space.
Two of the new stores – Manufaktura, the pottery importer, and The Bee’s Knees, the stuff seller, have doubled down on Mystic, opening outlets in the village in addition to those it continues to operate downtown. town. Crop, the salon, has moved to the village from a downtown location. And Alice’s Haunted Little Bookshop, located next to sister store Alice in the Village Tea Room, is the owner’s third Olde Mistick Village outlet.
To some extent, downtown and village cater to a different clientele, according to Regan.
“It’s a great advantage to be right off the freeway,” he said of the village’s location on Coogan Boulevard, near Interstate 95 exit 90. “ But people also want to go downtown. Everyone wants to see the drawbridge.
Regan said the trick to keeping things fresh in the 40-store village, which opened on September 11, 1973, is to welcome new tenants whose sales won’t hurt those of the property’s existing retailers. . (Hint: ice cream shops don’t need to apply).
David Greenberg and his wife, Ellie, co-owners Alice’s Haunted Little Bookstore, which opened two months ago. David Greenberg described it as a companion to the adjacent store, Alice in the Village, “an immersive Alice in Wonderland store” which opened in 2016.
“It’s the opposite, representing the Victorian side of England…the spooky, gothic side,” he said of the bookstore.
Ellie Greenberg also owns The Mantle and the Wand shop that opened in the village a year ago.
From the bookstore, a “portal” or window, in the wall separating Alice’s store in the village, is strictly one-way. On the other side, in the other store, it’s a mirror.
David Greenberg said the bookstore’s shelves are full of products not found where first-run books are sold. Chosen for their themes, some were bestsellers in their day.
The rare book section of the 950-square-foot store features selections the Greenberg team picked up at auction, including “Thirty Years of Hell,” published in 1904, and “Graham’s Magazine Collection” from 1844, which contains a original poem by Edgar Allan Poe.
Where else, asked David Greenberg, are you going to find a copy of Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” on a shelf across from “Fancy Coffins To Make Yourself” and “How to be a Dictator”?
Alan Kruger and his wife, Elle Englander, own Manufacturing, which imports stoneware made in England’s native Poland. The store opened on May 7.
Englander and her mother started the business in 2004, her husband said, first opening a warehouse in Enfield. In 2019, the owners of the factory that produces the pottery traveled to the United States, including coastal Connecticut, New York and the Coast Guard Academy, where Kruger works as waterfront director.
Subsequently, Manufaktura opened stores in Watch Hill; Mashpee, Mass., to Cape Cod; downtown Mystic; and finally the 1,330 square foot one in Olde Mistick Village.
Kruger said the pottery, made of clay, is valued for its durability and can be placed in dishwashers and microwaves.
“It’s a small niche product that no one else produces, reasonably priced and of high quality,” he said.
Bethany Perkins, owner of bee’s kneessaid its 1,600 square foot store in the village, which opened last week, is four times larger than its downtown store.
“It gives us the opportunity to grow,” she said.
Perkins said Mystic was “packed full” and welcomed the ample parking available in the village grounds, a far cry from the downtown location.
“Parking is great here, crowds are great,” she said. “I look forward to organizing events – trunk shows, local artists. … It feels like home.”
With 1,500 square feet, Crop has three times the space it had at its downtown location next to The Whaler’s Inn, according to Shannon Hanrahan, the salon’s co-owner with Lisa Van Kruiningen. She said they were planning to add a facialist to do makeup and would start giving massages.
“The increase in visibility has been fantastic,” she said of the salon’s move to the village, where it opened on April 6.
Tim Kinnally, co-owner of Beef Jerky Experiencewas brandishing a brush Friday in an attempt to open at some point over Memorial Day weekend.
Kinnally, a retired firefighter whose partners are his brother, Michael, and Cory Leggiero, has Beef Jerky franchises in Saratoga Springs, NY, Merrimack, NH, and Lee, Mass., and expects to fit right in to the Olde Mistick Village mix.
He said the 1,500-square-foot store will look like a specialty grocery store and sell all manner of jerky and meat snacks, wild game, dog treats, popcorn and peanuts. Insects will also be available, including chocolate covered ants.
“Ninety percent of what we do is choppy,” Kinnally said.
A recent success story of Olde Mistick Village, Pat and Kim Roche opened Make your brand customizations in November 2020 and since its expansion occupy 2,500 square feet.
“We soon realized that one unit wasn’t enough,” Kim said. “We needed storage space.”
The Roches customize all manner of merchandise, including tumblers, growlers, glassware, trophies, awards, skateboards, beer taps, and t-shirts, to name a few. . Their customers include schools, fire and police departments, and the navy.
“People really don’t know what we’re doing when they walk in,” said Kim Roche, the workshop’s designated “master of all machinery,” including two laser engravers. But once they discovered it, many were hooked.
“Word of mouth has been great for us,” she said.