New Branford company will feature only local produce – and goats

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BRANFORD — A storefront that will feature only locally made products, serve coffee and pastries, and host outdoor events when weather permits. That’s Jonathan Hunt’s vision for his new Branford-based business, Gray Goat Farmtique, which he hopes to open on North Branford Road this spring.

If visitors are lucky, they can even combine their shopping with a visit to farm animals – Hunt hopes to keep goats on the property, assuming he can get the necessary permits.

A new business owner, Hunt’s inspiration came during the COVID-19 pandemic, when he started making his own wristbands.

He was working as an operations officer for a mental health company when the virus hit, he said. Like so many others, he was stuck at home.

“I remember I was lying in bed one night surfing ads on the internet, like we all do, and I had a wristband when I left, and it was $95,” he said. he declares.

Hunt thought, “I could probably do it myself.”

That’s how East Haven resident Hunt started making his own jewelry.

Staff at the John & Maria pizzeria, where Hunt was a customer, let him display his bracelets at the bar.

“He started making these bracelets and I loved them,” said Heidi Peterson, who runs the restaurant’s bar. “So we started posting them and it took off.”

Lena Valentino, who said she is co-owner of John & Maria pizzeria, saw the effort as “helping somebody else, you know, get started,” she said.

“We just like to support local,” she said. “We’ve been here a long time and basically we love helping each other out.”

If John & Maria’s staff hadn’t been enthusiastic about his proposal, Hunt said, he might have given up on the idea. Instead, the support helped him change careers, as he also started doing craft shows and “meeting amazing people.”

There was a woman from East Haven who made pet cookies in her spare time, for example, and a couple from Colchester with a side-hustle to candle-making.

“I thought, you know, it would be such a great thing to put in one place,” Hunt said. “It has so much vibe when it’s something that’s made locally and you help support someone’s dream.”

During that time, he found other local businesses willing to help publicize his bracelet-making business, J Beads, and those connections gave Hunt the confidence to start the Gray Goat Farmtique, he said. declared.

It “made me realize how much support there was in the small business community,” Hunt said. “It was a really welcoming experience.”

And so, after 15 years in the social services industry, Hunt said, he quit his job in November.

With the help of a friend in real estate, Hunt found the property where he plans to settle. Located on Route 139 near the Route 1 intersection, the plot once housed a bar called Libby’s Excuse Room.

Now Hunt hopes to bring something new to the cozy brick home on the lot.

Gray Goat Farmtique will offer retail space rather than a market with stalls, Hunt said. But it plans to work only with local suppliers, he said.

“I would like to rotate them about every quarter to have showcases of different items,” he said.

Products can include home decor, local metal and woodwork, handmade jewelry, pet supplies, candles and baked goods, he said.

“Sometimes you don’t have time to go get that special candle they sell in another city,” Valentino said of the benefits of Hunt’s business model. “I think it’s just going to be a neat store, you know. He has a lot of passion.

“He’s just going to put his heart and soul into it,” Peterson said.

Hunt is currently accepting vendor applications. Forms are available online at https://www.greygoatct.com/.

While it will start with Connecticut-based providers, Hunt said, it’s open to expanding into neighboring states. It will sell coffee at the store through a partnership with One World Coffee Roasters, an East Haven-based company.

“During the warmer months, I want to open up the outside to have retail space,” Hunt said.

Hunt also plans to occasionally host live music and demonstrations by local artisans. He wants Gray Goat Farmtique to be “a destination people want to go to when they’re in the area,” he said.

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