Taking the Retail Plunge in New Canaan

New owners take the helm of The Summer House beginning September 1.

In a way Margaret Schwartz and Megan Freyer say, they have been preparing to take ownership of on Forest Street all of their lives.The South Salem, NY friends since childhood, recall they have always been passionate about creating inviting living spaces.

Schwartz says her love of New Canaan began when she worked at during high school. After college, she followed her interest in design to Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, where she worked for four years.

Meanwhile, Freyer pursued another interest, psychology, achieving a Masters degree in the field.

About a year ago, the friends agreed they were both ready for a career change. They decided they wanted to do something they loved and decided they wanted to do it together.

Freyer and Schwartz began searching for a retail space suitable for sharing their design style which they describe in their blog as "downtown chic and French country flair."

When they heard that The Summer House was for sale, they made a visit and realized that the owner Tyler Taylor had created it with a style that was a lot like their own.

When Taylor opened her shop in New Canaan six years ago, it was on the corner of East Avenue and Forest Street, in the space recently taken over by Sleepy's. Earlier this year, she made the move to the building at the other end of Forest Street, formerly the garage of Griffin Ford, which is now also home to , a new Greek and Mediterranean style restaurant and market. This fall, they will be joined by , which is making the move from its present Main Street location.

The newly renovated space, with soaring ceilings, enormous iron-clad windows and skylights and concrete floors is reminiscent of a city loft. It offers a wonderful backdrop for the furnishings featured by the shop, a combination of antiques and contemporary furniture with clean lines and subtle colors and unique accent pieces.

"We're really excited to be here," says Schwartz, adding they can't wait to get started.

Answering a question about any trepidation they might have about the challenges facing retailers in the current economic environment, Schwartz said, "we have faith that the economy will bounce back and the empty storefronts will be full again."

She added that in uncertain economic times, "the home becomes a refuge," and that homeowners are focusing on, "making their homes comfortable to ensure that it makes them happy when there is a lot of uncertainty in the world."

Promising an array of new inventory for fall beginning September 1st, she says it will continue to reflect their love for the mix of traditional and modern styles.

Freyer and Schwartz plan on taking full advantage of their unique space by hosting special events to attract town residents to their store.

In October, which will be supplying weekly fresh floral arrangements to the store, will conduct an in-store seminar on centerpiece design.


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