Lynne and Craig Perry are the proud new owners of Newbury Place in Southbury. The store, which features gifts, clothing and jewelry, is set in a 150-year-old mill on Oak Tree Road in Southbury. (Vaughan photo)
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SOUTHBURY — “Newbury Place is here to stay,” new owners Craig and Lynne Perry told Voices, explaining they don’t consider themselves to be owners of a store as much as stewards of a legacy. Set in a 150-year-old mill at 41 Oak Tree Rd., the Newbury Place gift store has been a part of Southbury for years, serving generations of loyal customers. The couple became small business owners after seeing a Facebook post last December that announced the previous owners’ decision, after 14 years, to close the store after the holiday season.
Lynne explained she saw the social media post, gave it some thought and decided it was something she thought the couple should pursue. Craig agreed, and the couple got in touch with the owners and began the process of purchasing the store.
The store opened under their ownership in March, right as the Covid-19 pandemic hit. By March 18, the store was closed again, per order of the governor.
While some people may have thought about panicking, the Perrys took the opportunity to refurbish the store, repainting the interior and making a few minor adjustments to the stock. By late April, the store was offering curbside sales and it officially reopened for “in-person” customers on May 20.
Although this is their first store, the Perrys have business backgrounds, having each worked in family businesses. Those family businesses were much larger, though, and these days the two find themselves doing it all, from sweeping the floors to taking out the garbage.
“And there’s no IT guy,” Lynne said with a laugh. The couple find themselves working harder, “but it’s fun, no stress,” she said.
The store, which features gifts, jewelry, greeting cards and clothing, offers a personalized shopping experience. Even now, with the store open for customers to shop, keeping safety protocols in mind, the staff will answer calls with gifts suggestions and even bring a small selection of merchandise out to waiting customers who are concerned about shopping in person.
Newbury Place’s new website will present customers with a virtual shopping experience when it is fully updated, Craig said.
Newbury Place offers a selection of merchandise not likely to be found in larger stores. The greeting cards, ranging from funny to sweet, for example, are a unique collection of cards not offered in every supermarket or drug store, and there is an assortment of merchandise sporting humorous messages, along with food items and clothing.
A section of the store is devoted to jewelry and an area upstairs includes gifts for the baby or young child. While the store offers a lot of national merchandise, it is also committed to source local artisans.
Mr. and Mrs. Perry have not strayed too far from the original store’s mission. Lynne likens it to a “secret sauce.” The store had loyal customers, and those customers will find it much the same, even better.
Two key staff members have stayed on. Megan LaCava, who was with the store for about 11 years before leaving for a few years, is back, as is Donna Klim, who has been with the store for three years.
Part of the secret is the complete personalized service, from shopping assistance to gift wrap. Another part is the store’s relaxed shopping atmosphere. “People leave happy even if they don’t buy something,” Lynne said.
The Perrys are both long-time Southbury residents. Lynne was born and raised in Southbury, while Craig arrived as a young child and stayed. They are firmly committed to the town and support local schools, sports and organizations.
They have a strong philanthropic focus, and while they cannot help everyone, they try to do as much as they can to support the local Food Bank, Rotary Club, Girl Scouts, school groups and churches. They do their best to give back as much as they can to the local community, whether that be financially or as volunteers.
Most recently, the store was excited to announce it has been named a “Specialty Retailer” for Brighton jewelry. Brighton is sold across the country in a select group of boutique stores.
The line features a blend of classic style with modern design, “at perfectly giftable pricing,” according to a Facebook post announcing the addition. “The line is extensive, and we can special order any piece that will ship within 24 hours. That’s part of the Brighton Difference,” Mr. and Mrs. Perry said.
For those wondering about the previous owners, Liz has chosen to continue with the store in Washington Depot, now a Five Janes, and Amy has chosen to continue on with the store in Essex, now a J. Alden Clothiers. Eva, the third owner, is no longer in retail.
Newbury Place is located at 41 Oak Tree Rd. The store has a Facebook page, Newbury Place, and on Instagram, newburyplace, as well as a website at www.newburyplace.com
. Those seeking additional information may call 203-264-7333