Jeweler Moves From The Street To The Web

LaVanda Bryant considered the custom jewelry store at the corner of Chapel and Orange out of her price range. Then she found bargains on four pieces—because the store’s going out of business. The physical store, that is.

Blame it on a lousy economy and a congested nearby bus stop, said Robert Lang.

He and business partner Kimberly Arpaia were about to go into their third year of business.

But they couldn’t keep up with the hefty $4,000 monthly rent in a timely fashion. So the landlord did not renew the lease.

“Our last day is the end of April,” he said.

Allan Appel PhotoBetween now and then, even for a non-jewelry, non-shopper maven, the store looks to have big bargains.

“We’re not going out of business. We just won’t have a storefront,” Lang said.

He and Arpaia launched an e-commerce site. So far it seems to be going well.

Lang said that he loves the neighborhood and the people he’s met. “We really wanted to [stay], but the financial economy is still lousy.”

He said the business will maintain a local presence at fairs, juried shows, and Ninth Square events.

In the short time the store has been in business, Lang (pictured) has taken a leadership role among the merchants of the Ninth Square. He helped to form an informal organization that called attention to drug dealing being carried on along Chapel Street; and also to public urination in the semi-concealed spot off Orange Street and behind ArtSpace’s “Lot.” There is now a fence up on Orange; Lang can happily say au revoir to the inadvertent public pissoir. He reported that illegal commerce on Chapel, particular by the bus stop, has also diminished.

Bus Stop Congestion On Chapel

What has not been fixed, he said, is the congested bus stop/transit point at Orange and Chapel.

It’s been a bee in Lang’s bonnet, and he still wants to leave a message for the powers that be in that regard: “If they ever get to moving that [bus] stop, that would definitely help Ninth Square” merchants.

Asked whether the bus stop in particular has contributed to the demise of the store, Lang was adamant: “Wholeheartedly I believe the congestion on the sidewalk doesn’t really invite people to come down to the neighborhood to shop. It frightens a lot of shoppers away with the transfer station/bus stop there.”

“They could be the nicest people in the world. It’s not inviting for people to pass through a crowd,” he added.

Shopper Bryant, who works at nearby Gateway Community College, came from the other direction. The crowd was not a problem for her.

Rather, until recently, perception had been her impediment: that Arpaia Lang is for people richer than she is.

That was dispelled this Christmas when another nearby lower-end store didn’t have what Bryant wanted.  So she dared to enter the light-filled open spaces of Arpaia Lang.

It was shopper’s love at first sight. She bought that Christmas gift, and later one-caret white gold earrings she wears proudly.

“You guys are so pleasant and nice,” Bryant said to Kimberly Arpaia as the latter wrapped up one of four new purchases, which included more earrings and bracelets.

“We’re heartbroken. We were shell shocked” when she learned the lease would not be renewed, Arpaia said. “What do you do when you put heart and soul and money” into a place and it doesn’t work out?

Then she answered her own question: “We just keep moving,” she said. Maybe when the next chapter begins, she’ll better be able to understand why the store’s fate was to close, she added.

Then Arpaia and her customers hugged each other.

Lang said that “tons of people” have been coming in to express their regrets. “Today we had three different people who take the bus. They never have been in here. They came in [today] for the first time and they said they’re sad to see such a pretty store go,” he reported.

“We hate to see Arpaia Lang leave. It was such a wonderful store and great addition to the neighborhood. We hope to have to new tenants in the spring,” said the landlord, Bill Christian.

The steeply discounted all sterling silver jewelry is priced from about ten to a hundred bucks. The store hours are Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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posted by: robn on March 6, 2014  1:56pm

Its a pretty nice location but $20/sf for a lower chapel retail space? Seriously?

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on March 6, 2014  2:11pm

Good thing he is geting out now.He will not be the only one once gentrification picks up downtown.

posted by: Bill Saunders on March 6, 2014  2:48pm

Can you buy the motorcycle in the window on-line, too????

posted by: Stylo on March 6, 2014  2:49pm

Lower Chapel has so much potential, but that disgusting bus stop kills it. Why not move it to State Street where it’s less of a foot trafficked area and won’t interfere with business?

And $20/sf should be more like $15 there.

posted by: anonymous on March 6, 2014  4:01pm

Stylo, rents are going up in downtown New Haven. The next corner down is $40/SF.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing - the share of city property taxes from downtown are way up, too.

posted by: Joe City on March 6, 2014  4:52pm

How quickly we forget…the reason this bus stop is here is because it was kicked out of its real spot in front of the old mall at Chapel and Church to please the la de da new owners of the Onmi hotel. This is just a replacement for that stop. And for an administration that hopefully will improve bus service, moving it isn’t necessarily a good idea, improving it is. Someday, there will may be a bus station/transfer point but for all the routes to converge is way harder than just saying move it (the stop) to State Street. There is already a stop at State Street, which has all the same problems.

posted by: Shaggybob on March 6, 2014  5:13pm

Making it too expensive for small business to survive downtown and driving up costs is the Yale Plan.  And it seems to be working just fine.
Taxes on that building are only 12k a year- that rent is outrageous. Look it up.

The bus stops are a whole issue in itself-if the buses were on schedule maybe there wouldn’t be so many people waiting for them.

posted by: robn on March 6, 2014  7:01pm


I never fails to blow my mind that New Haven has the gall to tax wood frame houses in East Rock at $100-125/sf, and downtown buildings of steel and masonry construction at $65-75/sf.
The concept of comparables sales clearly can’t be used to determine real value in a town with glacial turnover in commercial property. This is the poster child for property tax reform.

posted by: 14yearsinNHandgone on March 6, 2014  9:02pm

Look at the map!  There are over a dozen bus stops all in the same two or three block area.  There has to be a way to consolidate the stops better than this.  Why not a terminal instead of fifteen or twenty separate stops all over the place?

posted by: Bill Saunders on March 7, 2014  3:29am

Remember People,

That bus stop was developed using transportation grants in the name of ‘the arts’.

You can read the history on a remarkably accurate wikipedia entry…..

(shortened here because of space…...)


In 2001, a community charrette focused on the Lot was organized by Artspace, the International Festival of Arts and Ideas and Project for Public Spaces. There, artists and neighborhood residents developed ideas for renovating the site, including plantings, pathways, and benches and a new bus shelter. To realize the plan, Artspace worked with Bothwell Site Design, the Greater New Haven Transit District, the Town Green Special Services District, and the City of New Haven, with support from the Federal Transit Administration.[13] Bothwell’s design, anchored by benches of stone recycled from the Phoenix Building, was honored by the American Society of Landscape Architects.

See, it was a success!  (I-95 Underpassers take note….)

posted by: Walt on March 10, 2014  10:41am

That area has been unsuccessful low-end for 60 years

Unless the new tower has tremendously affected   the lower Chapel / State St area, the idea that a fine jewelry store   would make a profit there was a hell of an unlikely winning gamble,

They lost

Let u8s hope they do better on the network

posted by: 14yearsinNHandgone on March 13, 2014  7:34am

Bill, you HAVE to be kidding.

That little “pocket park” on lower Chapel isn’t even visible from the street.  That’s a perfect example of the least-integrated public space I have ever seen.  The bus stop foot traffic completely cuts off and isolates the “park” from the rest of the area.  Half the people who go down that part of the street don’t even know it is there, because they cross the street to get away from that bus stop and the craziness it brings.