Report by Paula Antolini
September 20, 2018 10:26PM EDT
Photo: Bethel Economic Development Committee Chairman Mike Boyle (right) helps Byrd’s Books owner Alice Hutchinson (left) move a cart of books on the sidewalk during the ribbon-cutting reopening celebration of her new location at 178 Greenwood Avenue, on Saturday, September 13, 2018. (Photo credit: ©2018 Paula Antolini/Bethel Advocate News Media)
(Scroll down to view videos and photos from this event.)
PHOTOS/VIDEOS: A Celebration with 6 Ribbon-Cutting Ceremonies and a Block Party for Bethel Businesses
Perfect weather and perfect smiles greeted business owners on Saturday, September 13th, as six Bethel businesses celebrated new openings or re-openings, beginning with ribbon-cutting ceremonies on Greenwood Avenue in Bethel and continuing with special activities at their businesses all day.
Town officials, state officials and a large crowd gathered for the festivities in downtown Bethel. The business owners’ celebrations included attendees CT State Senator Toni Boucher, CT State Representative Steve Harding, First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker, Selectman Richard Straiton, Economic Development Committee Chairman Mike Boyle, Bethel Chamber of Commerce officials, and many more.
Brittany Shears, a new hair cutting business owned by Brittany Murphy, celebrated with the first ribbon cutting at 9:00am, at 233 Greenwood Avenue (same building as Lawlor Graphics). She offered haircuts all day, “$12 adults and $10 for kids!” along with treats and beverages.
The shop specializes in men, women and children’s haircuts/fades as well as men’s shaves, women’s blow dries and basic styles, along with color and highlight services.
“Saturday was my 29th birthday,” Murphy said, “So I decided what better way to celebrate!”
Murphy has been doing hair since she studied at Abbott Tech starting at the age of 14. “I had my first job then as an assistant and I’ve only ever worked in a salon or barber shop,” she said. After graduating in 2007 Murphy took a couple of years off to have children. She then worked at Supercuts in 2010, “to get back into the work setting,” she said, also receiving a few years of management experience there as well. She then left that job to rent space at Stewart’s barbershop in town in 2014. Murphy said, “I was there for about 4 years when I decided it was time to make the move to my own place.”
Regarding the unique business name, her fiance thought of the name “Brittany Shears” Murphy said. “One night while I was still at the barber shop I was trying to think of a new name to rebrand myself and get myself out there in social media when my fiancé suggested Brittany Shears. Being a 90’s kid with a huge passion for music I ran with it. I decided I wanted a family-oriented shop with a music theme. I feel like music is something most everyone can relate to and has some interest in.”
Murphy is very happy to be in Bethel, and said, “I’m so happy to be a business owner in the town that I grew up in and volunteer in. Now my kids are growing up here as well! I can’t wait to see what the future holds!”
The other 5 ribbon-cuting events began at 11:00am with the reopening of the Toy Room, with owner Kimberly Ramsey, “Toy Guru Extraordinaire,” who recently moved to this larger location at 180 Greenwood (from 153 Greenwood Ave.).
Ramsey said, “I’m thrilled to be in my new location. This area of Greenwood Avenue was always such a vibrant location and I’m thrilled that we are able to be part of the next generation of businesses to bring life back to this area of Greenwood Ave. For me personally, after being the lone retail store on the other side of the street it feels wonderful to have neighbors and a constant flurry of activity with people walking around to the other shops, library, restaurants & the bakery.”
Established in 2006, the Toy Room is the premier store to go to for all your toy needs in the Bethel, CT area. They offer a unique selection of quality toys including: crafts, games, dolls, science and building kits, puzzles, infant toys, and educational and developmental toys. The Toy Room was voted the 2017 “Best of Bethel Business of the Year,” an award from the Bethel Chamber of Commerce.
When Kim isn’t busy with The Toy Room she enjoys planning getaways, exploring cities, participating in Urban Races and scavenger hunts and playing board games with her husband and kids. On the top of her bucket list – competing in The Amazing Race.
Byrd’s Books celebrated their reopening with owner Alice Hutchinson, after moving from their location near P.T. Barnum Square to 178 Greenwood Avenue in August 2018, the center of Bethel’s historic downtown, located directly across from the Bethel Public Library.
As First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker congratulated Hutchinson right before the ribbon cut, on her third grand opening, she said, “Three is a charm!” which refers to the three locations she’s had for her business so far. Knickerbocker went on to say, “Alice is, in my humble opinion, the most active supporter/promoter of downtown Bethel.”
Hutchinson said the store moved down the street “five years to the day, on all-volunteers help.” She said she let people know that she needed volunteers to help move and she got a huge response. “I had movers ready to go that I never needed,” she said, “I cannot say enough great things about the town I live in.”
Hutchinson also mentioned that she and Kimberly Ramsey, the owner of the Toy Room next door, opened up a door between the two shops. “It’s been so much fun so far and may it continue forever,” Hutchinson said.
Byrd’s Books is a general bookstore that carries only new titles, with a special focus on Connecticut authors, poets, publishers and illustrators. A proud member of the American Bookseller’s Association, and its division Indiebound, allows Byrd’s Books to participate in the larger community of bookselling nationwide.
Fully 25% of the inventory of Byrd’s Books is dedicated to children’s books of all ages and genres, including poetry. Their additional sections include bestsellers, mystery, nature, sci-fi and fantasy, classics as well as greeting cards, gifts, puzzles, and a large selection of discounted titles.
The bookstore takes special orders and offers gift certificates of any value. Their online ordering offers books, audiobooks and ebooks at 20% discount and $.99 per piece shipping. They also provide digital downloads from Libro.fm, audiobooks for Indies. Byrd’s Books does off-site book selling and in-store book fairs as fundraisers for non-profits.
Byrd’s Books has received many honors. In 2015 they were named “Best Bethel Business of 2015” by the Bethel Chamber of Commerce. In 2017 they received a nomination for a Pannell Award by the Women’s National Book Association. In 2017 they received one of Connecticut Magazine’s 10 Best Bookstores honor. In 2017 they received a BookRiot “The Best Bookstores in All 50 States +DC” honor. In 2018 they were nominated for “Best Retailer of 2018” by the Bethel Chamber of Commerce.
The owner, Alice Hutchinson, is the daughter of Nancy Ivison who owned Pymander Bookshop in Westport for 30 years. Ms. Hutchinson served as its manager and buyer over the years. She also worked at Barnes & Noble when it first opened in Danbury. Her Master’s of Art degree is in Teaching (MAT) with an emphasis on Young Adult literature.
Hutchinson has been actively involved in Bethel’s culture for many years. She was a commission member of Bethel’s Planning and Zoning commission for 16 years, and she served as First Selectman for one term.
Doherty Petri School of Dance celebrated their re-opening at 170 Greenwood Avenue, owners are Karen and Lisa Petri. Many students were on hand dressed in costume, and gave a short demonstration of Irish dance after the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Karen Petri said, “Last year when the fire happened, within two days the Chamber of Commerce and the government building, municipal building, helped us secure a place to have dancers move into right away.” She continued, “We just want to thank the town and the overall support we got last year when this happened, and the sense of community, it’s truly amazing.”
Founded in 1991, by Karen and Lisa Petri, the Petri School of Irish Dancing has grown quickly and has become one of the preeminent Irish Dance schools in the world. The school has over 140 dancers aged 4 to 21.
Classes are offered to beginners through champions in Bethel, CT and also at the Petri Studios in East Northport and Franklin Square, NY.
Dancers from the school have performed at numerous venues around the tri-state area including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Madison Square Garden where the NY Knick’s have repeatedly asked them to perform during the game’s halftime break, Radio City Music Hall, the Joyce Theater, the Tilles Center, and the New Victory Theater.
Their dancers have been featured on the Rosie O’Donnell Show, The Maury Show, CBS-The Early Show, The WB-11, NBC News, ABC News, Fox News, and Sesame Street. They have also recorded spots for several TV commercials. Senior dancers have performed on the Norwegian Cruise Lines.
Every year since 1999, the Petri School has been invited to perform the New York Knicks halftime show at Madison Square Garden. In 2006 the school performed at the New Jersey Nets halftime show on March 17th.
Dancers have performed at Gracie Mansion several times for Mayor Giuliani and Mayor Bloomberg and their invited guests, who have included Michael Flatley.
Every year on St. Patrick’s Day, the school is invited to perform at the NY, NY Governor’s Breakfast at the Waldorf Astoria to help kick off the New York City St. Patrick’s Day parade.
The school has been covered by numerous newspapers and magazines because of its success including in Newsday, Dance Magazine Home Magazine, Irish Dance Magazine.
The BBC featured the school in a special ½ hour documentary broadcast in Ireland and the United Kingdom. Former senior dancers, Deidre Faughnan and Katherine Whelan, performed in International and National tours with the Trinity Irish Dance Company.
The school is especially proud of its international competition accomplishments which are numerous. The Petri School is proud to have had over 50 dancers achieve international recognition, with 10 dancers receiving World Medals in 2009-2010.
The Petri School hosts a yearly feis (dance competition), where 1000 dancers from throughout North America come to Long Island to compete. Renowned adjudicators from around the world have come to judge the competitions. The school has had the honor to have prominent persons such as NY Senator Charles Schumer attend the event and present awards to the winners.
Owner, Lisa Petri, is the past President of the Irish Dancing Teachers Association of North America. The IDTANA represents over 600 members in North America. She was also a long time member of the Mid-Atlantic Region Executive Board and is a U.S. delegate to An Coimisiun Le Rinci Gaelacha where she is a member of the Oireachtas Committee.
Owner Karen Petri, is the Director of the Mid-Atlantic Region of the IDTANA representing over 150 members in thr Tri-State area. She is also a U.S. delegate to An Coimisiun Le Rinci Gaelacha where she is a member of the Udaras Committe.
Lisa & Karen Petri, along with Mary Kay Heneghan, were the chair people of the 2010 North American Irish Dance Championships held on July 4th weekend in Orlando, Florida. With over 4000 competitors and 14000 spectators, the 5 day event was the largest North American Irish Dance Championship to date.
Patricia’s Presents is a new store in Bethel, located at 164 Greenwood Avenue, and owner Patti Polk was on hand to celebrate with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Her original store location was at 199 Ethan Allen Hwy, in Ridgefield, CT.
The new space is filled with whimsical and eclectic gifts including equestrian and pet-themed merchandise, jewelry, comfy clothing as well as local art and gifts. Merchandise for women, teens, tweens and for HIM too.
Polk has traveled the world to find objects that combine the best in style from the fashion capitols of Europe, Africa, and the Middle and Far East. She designs and makes much of the jewelry in her shop. Her discerning eye and fabulous taste combine to provide her customers with exquisite jewelry. She designs for women who don’t just love pearls, but also have a sense of drama mixed with refined contemporary elegance. Patricia’s Presents pieces are for the women who know the difference.
Dilillo Real Estate celebrated their reopening with owner Jim Dilillo, at 162 Greenwood Avenue as the last of the six ribbon-cutting ceremonies this past Saturday. Jim Dilillo Broker/Owner founded Dilillo Real Estate in 2002 after a 20+ year career with technology companies Intel, Pioneer, and Avnet. Jim’s philosophy was simple, to form an independent real estate company focused 100% on the Connecticut real estate market.
Dilillo Real Estate has represented buyers and sellers in hundreds of sales for over 100 million dollars in real estate sales so they are experienced, knowledgeable, and professional. Jim’s hands-on approach to sales and agent management provide the very best service and real estate buying or selling experience for Dilillo Real Estate clients.
This block of businesses on Greenwood is in a building partially rebuilt from the ground up (and now some parts are completely brand new) after a 3-alarm fire on July 13, 2017 displaced several businesses on the north end of the first level and families living on the second floor.
We were able to capture some of the ribbon-cutting ceremonies on video, view below:
DOHERTY PETRI SCHOOL OF DANCE:
DILILLO REAL ESTATE:
View more photos and videos from this special day, below:
DOHERTY PETRI DANCERS LINEUP:
DOHERTY PETRI DANCERS:
TOY ROOM INTERIOR:
BYRD’S BOOKS INTERIOR:
DILILLO REAL ESTATE INTERIOR:
PATRICIA’S PRESENTS INTERIOR: