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Brick And Mortar Stores Close Doors

Clinton Music Center, Timeless Home Interiors and Laser Engraved Services live on but by Internet, phone and email.

 

Post Office Square is becoming a mini ghost town. Three businesses - each serving completely different needs - have opted to close shop physically and sell via the Internet.   

Laser Engraved Services, until recently found at 10 Post Office Square, moved out in mid-December. According to owner Tom Brennan, "The internet makes it PRACTICAL to NOT have a brick and mortar storefront anymore and it’s hurting downtown small town Connecticut."

His website reads: "Laser Engraved Services is now located on private property and is no longer located in Clinton, CT. We are focusing on industrial and commercial work in the future but will still be able to service our loyal local patrons by phone and email."

The move, Brennan said, is actually good for him. "I am happy, save for the debt run up while operating out of the store."

He has a trailer on private property, so he won’t have any customers at the new location. The phone number, website and email address remain unchanged.

"I am still doing work for some of my loyal customers by meeting them at Malone’s Coffee Shop, or in downtown Clinton and delivering, picking up items. Most of my work will come and go via UPS in the future," he explained.

The engraver's former neighbor at 11 Post Office Square, Timeless HOME Consignments, moved out shortly before he did.

Owner and decorating consultant Rachel Schemmerling said, "Post Office Square and downtown Clinton are certainly in need of some assistance...it's a dying area. I hope that the town can find a way to breathe some life into that area."

The consignment store closed in October, a year after it opened. Schemmerling added Facebook to the mix when the shop opened and it's been her best advertising.

"I loved my lil' shop...and it was doing very well. It just made more sense to not have so much overhead. The neighborhood there needs an infrastructure overhaul. There is no sewer system to accommodate a new restaurant or like business. If the town invested in this...and perhaps upgrading the buildings, parking...and image, it would attract more business. Take a look at Deep River and how they kept their identity but upgraded the area to make it more appealing for new business and customers," she said.

Schemmerling hopes to launch her new website in mid-January.  When the site launches, it will interface with Facebook so she can sell directly off of both. She currently has a warehouse but is not sure how much longer that will be so.

In 2013, Timeless HOME Consignments will be offering a new concept called IN HOME consigning. Schemmerling explains, "We come to you and take photos of your items and sell them for you online."

Clinton Music Center, found at 1 East Main Street until last May, is now an online and by-appointment-only business.

The transition was smooth, according to owner Catherine Zamecnik.

“We have a reputation for repairs and that’s where most of our money was made when we were at the storefront anyway,” she explained.

The repair service continues and they have inventory online. Most inventory, however, is sold through Craigslist and eBay.

Business is done out of Zamecnik’s home. There are no more lessons because of liability but former teachers do give lessons in people’s homes.

For repairs, customers can visit her home or she will pick up and deliver.

Before the storefront closed, online sales really weren’t done.

“There was just so much overhead with the store and, honestly, people just go online.” But the prices one finds online, she said, “are just not sustainable for a storefront.”

“If I tried to charge a couple of dollars more, people would go crazy and bring in their iPhones to show me what they saw it for on eBay,” she said and added, “I can’t sell things at that price and still pay rent and electricity and everything else.”

With a brick and mortar store, Zamecnik found, she had to have considerable inventory and vendors had to be paid up front. "Eventually, I was just getting enough money in to pay for the inventory, pay for the overhead. I didn’t have enough income except for coffee money.”  

She just wasn’t bringing in enough money to replenish inventory enough to have an online store. Zamencnik said, "I just couldn’t get to that level with prices of the internet stuff not allowing me to refurbish inventory and keep on going."

Most customers are still local, and she has quite a bit of stock in her home. 

“I have stuff tucked away everywhere here." A front-exposure basement with a slider that walks out onto the driveway works well.

“When people come in, things are in a glass case. The store is all set up in our basement. It’s a very separate part of the house and when people come in it’s like coming into a store and not intruding in a house.”

While the new way of doing business is working out, Zamecnik still needs a second job. “It’s just the way it is,” she says.

“There’s going to be a couple more stores closing on Route 1 because of the massage parlor the landlord put on the corner where my store was,” she informed and added, “Clinton Music Center is now going to be Serenity Asian Massage, even though last year there was the arrest for prostitution.”

Zamecnik would like to change some of the zoning regulations “because I’m appalled.”

"Clinton is a beautiful town. We are on Route One. It’s historical homes but the people in this town don’t care. It’s dead. Nobody wants to fix anyting, nobody cares or appreciates it and I don’t see any way that businesses are going to come back to Clinton with this kind of attitude.”

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Timeless Home Consignments is found on Facebook or by calling 203.500.9500 or by email at timelesshomeconsign@gmail.com.

For more information on Clinton Music Center, click here.

To reach Laser Engraved Services, click here.

VIN CIMINO January 02, 2013 at 02:51 AM
Art, please take the time to read the $500,000 setic analysis that is available at the land use office before excusing the current administration. I'm sure you will find it enlightening and it will affect your opinion.
VIN CIMINO January 02, 2013 at 03:49 AM
Robin, I agree with you that our current administration is largely innefective and that our naturally gifted locale is being reduced to a declining community that is, frankly, embarrassing. But, with regard to a new school, the City of New Haven spent hundreds of millions of dollars building new schools recently only to see their test scores decline. Yes, Morgan needed to be addressed as it has been allowed to deteriorate inexplicably, but spending $65 million on a new building on contaminated soil will not raise anyone's IQ or test score. It will only raise taxes considerably. We should also be concerned with how much money Clinton will ultimately receive from the state towards this new building, in light of the fact that the state will be facing a projected billion dollar deficit in 2013. I attended two presentations by the building committee and it's amazing how much less attractive the current drawings are than the original drawings that were presented to voters. What was the purpose of the original drawings, anyway? I think we all know.
VIN CIMINO January 02, 2013 at 03:52 AM
Agreed. The biggest problem is clearly not the building but what is taking place inside the building. That should be the first priority.
VIN CIMINO January 02, 2013 at 04:05 AM
That's an interesting scenario, Art, but I'm sure the Richards nursery property was evaluated for wastewater solution potential and found to be inadequate. Regarding the current Morgan property, you'll notice that absolutely no buyers have surfaced, probably due in part to the fact that it contains an aquifer that severely limits the type of enterprise that be located there.
Chris January 02, 2013 at 08:18 PM
The Morgan school site has not been put on the market. It is currently zoned residential. P&Z and the Planning Committee are waiting for a report from CT Water on the aquifer and where it extends into the property. The Planning Committee is looking to rezone the site and possibly the surrounding area based on future needs of Clinton. We are interested in ideas for the entire Rt-81 I-95 interchange area. What do the citizens of Clinton want? Reducing the tax burden has been heard most. This opens an entirely new conversation. What kinds of businesses are going to do this and keep the money in the community? What kind of businesses will bring jobs to the area? Not just minimum wage jobs, but jobs demanding livable salaries. Let’s not leave this up to developers to decide what Clinton needs. Let’s be proactive and zone the area for what we need and WANT! One way to do this is with form-based codes. They encourage public participation because they allow us to see what will happen and where. The can get specific as to the look and design of the buildings to be in keeping with their surroundings. Form-based codes encourage independent development by multiple property owners. Not just big box stores, which we have little control of the type of stores typically proposed for such parcels. Get involved, attend a meeting or send your thoughts to the Planning & Zoning Commission at Town Hall or email the Planning Committee at ClintonPlanningCommittee@gmail.com

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