As a group, the Business Women of Grand Street account for 80% of the businesses in Grand Street’s commercial corridor, and they are all niche entrepreneurs. It’s no wonder then, that they were the winners of CMSC’s 2014 Award of Excellence for Economic & Business Development, sponsored by Webster Bank.
The Business Women of Grand Street are: The Dutch Flower Lady, Technology Forensics, John Bale Book Company, Fine Craft Jewelers, Dottie’s 2, Princess Lingerie, Brass City Market on Field, Fashion Addict. Additional participants include Main Street Waterbury and Waterbury Development Corporation. Together, they are helping revitalize downtown Waterbury.
In the early 1900’s Grand Street offered a glamorous entry to the City, as visitors stepped out from the train station and were greeted by the beautiful municipal complex designed by architect Cass Gilbert. The decline of city wealth in the mid-20th century showed on Grand Street. However, the recent restoration of the historic City Hall has catalyzed increased business development on the street.
The City, Waterbury Development Corporation, and Main Street Waterbury have come to recognize that entrepreneurs – micro businesses – are a significant and energetic component, and a major building block for downtown revitalization. Recognizing the strong and sizable presence of women-owned businesses in Downtown, Main Street Waterbury now coordinates a highly successful series of Downtown Business Women’s Teas. Held seasonally, these gatherings provide opportunities for business women to meet, network, share their stories and interests, and enjoy interacting with their peers.
In addition to successfully running their own businesses, the Business Women of Grand Street are involved with Main Street Waterbury’s Downtown Business Watch Program, they participate in food and clothing drives to assist downtown residents, and they help plan and coordinate events that bring people and energy to downtown.
With their window displays, their strong customer service ethic, and enthusiastic participation in Main Street Waterbury’s holiday decorating contests, they have made Grand Street more attractive and welcoming.
Downtown Waterbury has experienced a revival of Grand Street, due to the willingness of these business owners to invest in the central business district. Grand Street’s vacancy rate has diminished, as nearly all of its storefronts are now occupied. Additionally, the Business Women support each others’ enterprises, often referring clients to one another.