If there’s anyone right now who is following the British saying, “Keep Calm and Carry On,” it’s Deb Hecht, the owner of Wilton’s newest retail store, Goldenberry. She’s remarkably calm even though Friday, April 20 will be Hecht’s first official day open in Goldenberry’s new location in Kimco’s River Park Shopping Center (5 River Rd.), but that’s after being open for five years in New Canaan and 28 years in the business in total.

“I just have a few more things on the shelves to price, but really, we’re ready and excited,” Hecht told GOOD Morning Wilton as she showed off her new space. It’s filled with an eclectic collection of giftware, porcelain and china, baby gifts, collectibles, jewelry, housewares, home decor, soaps, memorabilia and much more, with many of the items imported from England.

Goldenberry also offers a very wide selection of gourmet foods and specialty eats imported from the British Isles–favorites that British expats and anglophiles will absolutely love, like British sausages, bacon, meat pies and pasties, bangers, cheeses, cod, scones, Cadbury chocolates and candies, and many products that expats will recognize from store shelves at home across the pond. There are even acquired delicacies, like Scottish haggis. Hecht will put together gift baskets with a selection of delicacies and gift items.

And even for people who aren’t obsessed with all things British there are things to learn about and try, from how to brew loose tea leaves to using Elderberry syrup in prosecco for a classic cocktail, perfect for, say, making a toast to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Hecht has a ready supply of British decor and food items for anyone planning a Royal Wedding watching party.

Even when the items aren’t British imports, you’re still surrounded by the U.K. influence. Just look at the collection of picture frames for sale–they’re all cleverly displayed with photos of the royal family, especially Prince William, Kate, Prince Harry, Meghan, and more.

“The quirky mix really is 28 years of chatting with people, coming across things that I love, things people are so happy to find when they come in the shop,” Hecht says.

And of course Goldenberry carries tea. What store with an English flair wouldn’t?

Love of tea is really what made Hecht fall in love with all things British in the first place.

“I grew up with a grandmother who served tea after dinner, not coffee. From a young age tea was always there. To me the most wonderful meal is afternoon tea–it has all the best stuff in it. And I’ve always loved pretty things. For all family holidays my mother always set the table. Pretty things, beautiful presentation, lovely gifts wrapped, it was a big part of my life growing up. It just seemed natural.”

Truth be told, Hecht’s family doesn’t hale from England or the U.K.–much of her family came from Northern Italy. But they brought with them a habit of drinking tea with milk, rather than with lemon. “I’ve always loved that,” she says. Gathering around tea has always been a theme, either growing up with friends who were British and Irish, or later spending some years living and working in London. “The whole thing of coming together, when you’re enjoying the company of other people, you do it with tea,” Hecht says.

That environment from her youth, coupled with a later career in the display industry, made Hecht’s eventual move into the kind of retail store that Goldenberry is very natural.

“I love lovely things. Why go through life in a boring way if you can make it colorful and fun?” she says.

Walking into the store, it’s clear to see that Hecht likes to make people feel at home. There’s good conversation, expert help and suggestions about the many items on the shelves, and even the occasional cup of tea for anyone who visits for a bit longer.

“If I get chatting with someone, I do offer. I usually have it brewed in the back, just for hospitality, because I like doing that,” she laughs.

That warm and homey atmosphere that Goldenberry was known for in New Canaan is something Hecht is hoping to recreate in Wilton, to bring many faithful customers with her as she attracts new ones.

“Many, many people have said they will follow us, and we will be keeping our New Canaan connections. We hope our move will create a link between the towns.”

What has she discovered coming to Wilton? “People told me, ‘You’ll like the people in Wilton, they’re just so nice.’ I really have noticed it, it’s true!”

Special Events and Book Signings

In celebration of the opening, Hecht has scheduled a series of book signing events. On Thursday, April 26 from 2-4 p.m., New Canaan’s Babs Horner and her sister Susan Palma will sign their new book, Sophistication Is Overrated, at Goldenberry. The coffee table book includes delicious recipes and tips and tricks for truly unforgettable, ridiculous entertainment, refinement and fun. Sophistication Is Overrated was chosen by the “Today Show“‘s Hoda Kotb as one of her favorite things and was also included in the gift bags at the Golden Globes.

In support of the Wilton Woman’s Club, Goldenberry will donate 10% of purchases made during the event to the Wilton Domestic Violence Task Force, the Woman’s Club chosen charity for 2018.

Hecht has partnered with neighboring Happy Hands Pottery, which is offering a drop-in program during the event so moms can drop off their children while they enjoy the book signing. Kids can even take the bus there after school (reserve online).

Then on Thursday, May 10, from 6-8 p.m., bestselling author Jane Green will sign books and chat with customers at the shop. With 17 New York Times bestsellers, books published in 25 languages, and more than 10 million copies sold worldwide, People magazine has called Green, “the queen of beach books.”

This May, Green’s compelling, heartfelt, and emotional story, The Sunshine Sisters, about three sisters and their complicated relationship with their mother, is available in paperback, just in time for Mother’s Day and those longed-for beach reads. In addition to having the ability to keep readers turning pages, Green is a marvelous cook, as her fabulous Good Taste cookbook proves. Both books will be available at the event.

Event tickets are $30, which includes a signed copy of Green’s cookbook, Good Taste, as well as event sips and nibbles. In addition, a portion of the book sales will go towards cancer research. To buy tickets, contact Goldenberry at 203.972.5887 or stop by the store before May 7. Space is limited.

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