Progress continues on new food store in Huntington Center

Work continues on turning the former Beechwood Market into a natural foods store in Huntington Center.

As of last week, the inside of the 6,500-square-foot retail space had been essentially gutted. New refrigerator and freezer units have been placed across the back of the store and a walk-in cooler added on the side.

The old floor has been removed and a new tile floor will soon be put in. There also will be new lighting, shelving and check-out counters, and the entire inside will be painted.

The new store, to be named the Common Bond Market, will sell fresh produce, packaged foods, prepared foods to go, and nutritional supplements. It will have a deli, bulk-bin areas, kitchen and offices.

The landlord is building a new entrance foyer and brick facade in the front, and has added dormers to the roof.

In late August last year, Beechwood Market closed unexpectedly after more than a half century in Shelton.

Will open in the spring

Joshua Elliott, who will oversee the store, said he hopes the Common Bond Market can open its doors in late March or April. “We want to open as soon as possible in the spring,” he said.

Elliott said some of the interior work is dependent on the exterior work being done, and weather has been an issue.

He likes the new look being given to the structure’s outside by the landlord. “It makes the building stand out more,” Elliott said. “It makes the building look more alive when you drive by.”

The goal is to make the building’s front “more aesthetically pleasing” so it blends in well with Huntington Center, he said.

Three owners are involved

The Common Bond Market will be owned and operated by three people with connections to Thyme & Season, a similar establishment in business since 1997 in Hamden.

Elliott is partnering with his mother, Mary Ellen Stearman, and her fiancé, Mark Woollard, on the new business in Shelton.

Stearman owns Thyme & Season and was one of the founders of the FoodWorks natural foods markets, with stores in suburban towns east of New Haven as well as one in Monroe. She is no longer involved with FoodWorks.

The new market’s name comes from Elliott’s vision of food as something that brings people together, such as when families or friends share meals. “I see food as a cohesive bond between people,” he said.

Elliott said creating a new space has been a learning process for the store owners. “We knew it would take a while,” he said. “We have a giant to-do list.”

Forming relationships

Elliott said the new store expects to build strong relationships with its customers and employees, similar to what has happened in Hamden.

“We are on a first-name basis with our customers,” he said of Thyme & Season.

Like the Hamden store, the Common Bond Market will sponsor lectures and tastings. The new market will work with local vendors and companies. “We can help these businesses and producers,” Elliott said.

He expects to begin interviewing for employment positions in February or March, and some people already are dropping off resumes at Thyme & Season in Hamden. The Shelton store could initially hire from 20 to 25 people, both full and part time.

The public reaction to the new store coming to Huntington Center has been encouraging, said Elliott, a recent Quinnipiac University Law School graduate. “People are excited,” he said.

Learn more about the store and the construction process at the store’s website,