Two years after Varnum’s Pharmacy moved from its longtime iconic home along the Main Street Alley, a new company is set to take over the full-time retail space.
Chris Meier said he plans to launch “Against The Grain” at 91 Main Street in mid-August. Various Adirondack-style chairs are already appearing outside the store, which supplies handcrafted wood and other items from local artists and is a one-stop source of high-quality Amish furniture, Meier said.
Originally from Cape Cod, Meier said he chose New Canaan after spending about six months doing business in a pop-up space in south Stamford, where he lives with his wife Beth, who graduated in 2000 from Stamford High. School (they have been married for a year).
âA lot of our traffic was on weekends, people coming to restaurants and bars,â Meier said from the 2,400 square foot floor, where he is busy unpacking various furniture and interior sets and outdoor.
Meier did a lot of market research to determine where his clientele came from and settled in New Canaan, which he first investigated about three or four years ago, he said.
âI really liked the city,â he says. âI feel like it’s very retail oriented, I feel like it’s a central area where people from Fairfield and Westchester come to shop. It’s definitely a good market for me. A lot of people have houses here. Stamford is primarily for hire so I haven’t had a lot of stuff from people living in Harbor Point but I’ve had a lot of stuff from people outside of Harbor Point ordering room sets dining and outdoor furniture, a few bedroom orders. “
Customers regularly spent 45 minutes browsing original furniture and other items that Meier acquires through exclusive purchasing agreements with wholesalers of Amish wood products, he said.
What’s available ranges from outdoor items which can take up to a month to create, to indoor items which take twice as long – bedroom sets, rocking chairs and glides as well as smaller items such as cutting boards, sculptures, artistic pieces, utensils. , puzzles, games for children and Amish toys. Other items that go beyond furniture include wind chimes, feeders and birdhouses, he said.
âIt’s a unique store,â Meier said. âThese are things you won’t find on Amazon. We use over 150 suppliers, so we have a huge assortment of items, mostly made in the USA and Canada. You are going to find unique and unique things here. This is what people like.
Meier said he intends to join the New Canaan Chamber of Commerce and become more locally involved by exhibiting the work of area artists, handcrafted wood as well as metal products, in the goal of giving them a visible place for sales, and would also showcase work that students produce in local schools.
When asked what she thought of the new store, the chamber’s executive director, Tucker Murphy, said she was “happy the space has been filled.”
âIt’s one of the few vacant spaces in town, which is wonderful,â said Murphy.
Noting that she had not yet contacted Meier directly, Murphy added that she had seen some of her items outside “and the Adirondack chairs certainly look comfy.”
âWe wish him well and look forward to working with him,â said Murphy.
The owner of the commercial building on Main Street has been looking for months for the right tenant for the former Varnum space, considering setting up a gift shop while turning down several restaurants and other food vendors. By launching a retail store whose merchandise includes furniture and home goods, Against The Grain becomes a destination for shoppers who could also visit Thomas Throop’s Black Creek Designs on Grove Street, Found on Elm Street and Severed Ties on Cherry Street.
Meier, from Brewster, Mass., Said it was a family business. His own father, after retiring from a 30-year career in forensic psychology at East Lyme, bought a carpentry shop and slowly started a business, Woodworks Gallery, in Brewster.
Meier said it would offer furniture of a similar quality to what is available there and expand the range of merchandise.
âWe go to many craft fairs and trade shows,â Meier said. âWe are very attached to quality. “