Local shops may profit considerably from Yalies’ presence, but the newest addition to New Haven’s retail scene draws on the University for more than clientele.
Annex, which opened its doors on Friday in the Audubon Arts & Retail District, is the first Yale student-founded and managed retail store in New Haven. Conceived and developed by seven first-year set and costume designers at the Yale School of Drama, the store sells “one-of-a-kind” products made or collected by Yale students, including vintage clothes, accessories, art, music and furniture.
“All of us are excited by the opportunity to share the artistic expressions that our products represent with the greater New Haven community,” Annex Operations Manager Timothy Mackabee DRA ’09 said. “We can only hope our success inspires others to try something new, especially in a community like this where you will get a lot of support.”
The management team began the process of founding the store in mid-November, collaborating with University Properties.
The idea of opening a boutique like Annex had been on the drawing board for “quite some time,” Annex Creative Designer Luke Brown said, but was eventually implemented when a number of fellow designers expressed their interest in the project.
“Many of the first-year designers … at the Drama school create products like jewelry or hand-dyed scarves,” he said. “Last semester, when one of my classmates commented that she’d like to find a boutique in New Haven that could sell her scarves, I said that we should just open up our own store.”
The demands of running the store are not easy on students’ busy schedule, members of the management team said, especially since the students both manage the store and serve as its employees.
“We seven balance [the store] with 10 classes a week, crew work for shows at the Repertory, production work on student shows, and many, many, many hours of homework,” Mackabee said.
The group has tailored the store’s hours to class schedules, Mackabee said, and managers work out shifts based on their availability. Still, working at Annex is also welcome reprieve from the students’ academic responsibilities, Mackabee said.
“We read upwards of six plays a week, and it’s nice to have a quiet escape to relax and read,” he said.
Mackabee added that the group’s goal was not to make money from the project.
“The store was more of a personal project than a money-making machine … to see if we could do it,” he said.
Annex, located at 97 Audubon St., is within walking distance of a host of retail stores, including Toy Store on Audobon, Sogno: Boutique of Dreams and Bead Hive II, as well as New Haven arts institutions, including the Creative Arts Workshop, Neighborhood Music School and the ACES Educational Center for Arts.
“Annex is a perfect fit for the Audubon Arts District,” Director of Marketing for University Properties Shana Schneider said. “It certainly complements the other stores and businesses in the Audubon Arts & Retail District with its focus on renovated vintage and one-of-a-kind merchandise.”
Mackabee said he and his team are confident that the Audobon Arts District is the ideal location for Annex, since the shop’s artsy ambiance — the walls are painted in bright colors, and soft music from the students’ iPods greets shoppers — is best reflected there. He said he hopes the store’s proximity to art centers less visible to the Yale community will open up new channels of artistic communication.
Annex is open on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday from 3 – 7 p.m., on Tuesday and Friday from 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. and on Sunday from 12 – 4 p.m.