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Profit and loss at Sandy Hook

Published 9:48 pm, Sunday, December 23, 2012
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  • Suzanne Knight, left, and Linda Manna, owner of The Country Mill, talk about...
  • This is The Country Mill in Sandy Hook, Newtown Saturday, Dec. 22, 2012.
  • Michelle Spanedda serves Scott Orlando at the Demitasse Cafe in Sandy Hook,...

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NEWTOWN -- The memorials kept growing in Sandy Hook Saturday and the crush of pilgrims coming to visit them from around the country -- to leave flowers and notes, to take pictures, to just stand and stare, teary-eyed -- continued unabated.

Linda Manna, of The Country Mill in Sandy Hook, understands.

"It's a double-edged sword,'' she said. "As shopkeepers, our hearts are broken.''

But since the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School this month, the lines of people walking past the door of her store on Glen Road have not stopped to look at her line of home furnishings. And on her advice, her regular customers are staying away.

"They've called and I've told them they'll be overwhelmed,'' Manna said. "They're not going to come here.''

Manna also sells a few flower arrangements. But no more than a few.

"I'm not going to put buckets of flowers out on my steps,'' Manna said. "I don't want to make money off this.''

Throughout the Sandy Hook village, there is a mix of emotions going on. Merchants like Manna had a deep sense of how much of a toll the shootings have taken on their community, and the world beyond Sandy Hook.

But with so many people coming to visit the village, the normal flow of business is gone.

"You just can't get here,'' said Tamara Doherty, owner of The Wishing Well, a natural foods gift store on Church Hill Road. "It's gridlock out there.''

That gridlock was in force Saturday. Around noon, traffic was backed up on Church Hill Road from the center of Sandy Hill back to I-84.

Doherty said some people visiting the memorials have stopped by her store.

"But they're not buying,'' she said. "I don't know what they want.''

Doherty said her staff has also had to take time off to attend funerals. Even her mail-order business has been hurt.

"There were a couple of days when the FedEx couldn't get here,'' she said.

Most of her customers understand the extraordinary nature of what's happening at Sandy Hook, she said, and are forgiving.

Others aren't.

"Some scream,'' she said.

At Sandy Hook Wine and Liquors, the crowds have hurt business as well. People going to visit banks of flowers and stuffed animals commemorating the death of 20 young children and six adults at the school aren't stopping by for a six-pack of Bud Lite on their way home.

"It's been slow,'' said Jackie Moore, one of the store's staff."

Some of the store's regular customers have begun to return, Moore said.

"But I wouldn't say it's business was normal,'' she said.

At the Demitasse Cafe on Glen Road, business hasn't been normal. It's been above normal. The journalists who have been covering the shootings have needed a place to get some caffeine, to buy lunch, to recharge their laptops.

"Local coffee houses are the hub of the community,'' said Demitasse's owner Mike Landry. "We've been busy all week long.''

bmiller@newstimes.com; 203-731-3345

And as the impact of what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary ripped across the country, people began calling Demitasse to offer their support.

"We've had people giving us money so we could give free coffee to local residents,'' Landry said.

But nothing's simple. A lot of Landry's morning regulars, who might appreciate that free coffee, have been staying away from Demitasse, and Sandy Hook.

"We're family here,'' Landry said. "Some of the people who come in here have become my good friends. I hope to see them back.''

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