Trailblazer Closing After 23 Years

The Shops At YaleAn outdoor sports clothing retailer that has catered to the Broadway commercial district for the past quarter century will be closing its doors later this month.

That news came on Monday afternoon in an email from the owners of Trailblazer New Haven, which has operated out of a retail storefront at 296 Elm St. for the past 23 years.

The owners write that, despite last year being the company’s “best year ever,” they have decided to end their lease and will be closing shop on May 28. The owners, who run the new Patagonia franchise across the street on Broadway, said they plan to keep that business going.

L.L. Bean plans to open a two-story retail outlet this summer next to the Trailblazer space.

Read the full email announcement below.

Dear Friends,

It is with a heavy heart that we must relay the news that we will not be renewing our Trailblazer lease in New Haven.  Our final day will be Monday, May 28th. This decision was not made lightly and is in no way a reflection of your consistent loyalty and support.  296 Elm Street was our first location; it is precious to us and there are innumerable memories jam packed within its four walls.

One cold January morning, twenty-three years ago, we opened our doors to little fanfare and fewer sales.  Slowly but surely people peeked in, shared their stories and spent time with us. Over the years those simple conversations developed into block parties, pint nights, guest speakers and most importantly, thousands of shared experiences.

We are devoted to New Haven.  Denali will continue to support local nonprofits, host the Banff Mountain Film Festival at the Shubert, and Run the Gauntlet at East Rock Park.  New Haven is our birthplace and we will remain faithful to you and our community.

Thanks to you and your support, last year was our best year ever.  University Properties was vocal in their desire for Trailblazer to remain in its current location; unfortunately we could not find a responsible path forward and made the very difficult decision to not renew our lease.

Our Patagonia New Haven location is not going anywhere and we would love for you to come by to say hello.  The Branford store will be refurbished in June and we will open a new location in Providence, RI this August.  We welcome you to visit us in any of our other locations in Branford, Trumbull, Old Saybrook, Uncasville or Wakefield, RI.

We will continue to host activities to inspire and connect our outdoor family, build memories and reinvest our proceeds into our local communities.  This will always include New Haven.


Chris Howe, Todd Raskin & Chris Mejias


Post a Comment

Commenting has closed for this entry


posted by: Politics 101 on May 14, 2018  6:59pm

That’s too bad. I don’t go to Branford to shop (or for any reason, if I can help it) and I’m not going to start now. That said, I am not sure what exactly Yale Properties expected when they lured LL Bean here.

posted by: wendy1 on May 14, 2018  7:29pm

TB will be missed.  I was one of their loyal customers for years.  The owners and staff were nice responsible people with a helpful attitude in New Haven and in Guilford (at one time).

posted by: BetweenTwoRocks on May 14, 2018  11:31pm

Sensible decision. You already own the Patagonia and you have L.L. Bean coming in soon. How many outdoor outfitters do we need in a single block? My guess is, not 3. Glad to hear this isn’t a sad story about a failing business, though. I can’t imagine the rents on Broadway, will be interesting to see how Yale can get in there.

posted by: Politics 101 on May 15, 2018  8:22am

Why not open a New Haven location far far from Yale Properties… Westville Village?

posted by: BenBerkowitz on May 15, 2018  9:54am

They lost me years ago when they stopped selling skate stuff and then again when they shut down Enclave. Would be good to get a skate shop downtown again.

posted by: Westville Nutmeg on May 15, 2018  11:05am

To be fair, Trailblazer wasn’t at the current location for the past 23 years.  There was a stretch from around 2004 to 2008 when they occupied the space at the Taft Apartments at the corner of College and Chapel.  It sounds like they’ve tried various locations in New Haven and made the business decision to focus on a new business model that works for them, namely as a Patagonia New Haven.

posted by: concerned_neighbor on May 15, 2018  11:06am

Thanks, TB for your devotion to New Haven. While we are sad that TB New Haven is coming to an end, TB remains in Branford and elsewhere.

Best of Luck (and we won’t forget Denali!)

posted by: __quinnchionn__ on May 15, 2018  4:26pm

I always thought that the city should have more shopping districts with better retail stores.

posted by: mcg2000 on May 15, 2018  8:47pm

I miss the College and Chapel Streets location. If I recall correctly, the store took up two floors. When I first moved here, I bought a pair of snow boots there. I bought my next pair of snow boots at the Elm Street location.