Matt and Yvonne Shapiro fell in love with Newtown when they moved their family from California last year, but they felt one thing was missing: a creative outlet for young people that didn’t involve sports.

To fill that gap, the Shapiros opened Charmios in the Village at Lexington Gardens on Church Hill Road. Charmios offers drop-in, classes and private parties for pottery and canvas painting for people of all ages. There are classes designed for all age groups, including young children, 7 to 12, 13 to 17 and adult paint-and-sip nights.

“We didn’t see a lot to do that wasn’t sports related,” Matt Shapiro said about his move to the Sandy Hook area of Newtown.

Yvonne Shapiro said art is a therapy that brings people together. An artist is always on hand to guide the process.

The store is an extension of the e-commerce store the Shapiros founded in California that sells arts, party and crafts supplies. Opening a brick-and-mortar location allows for the business to expand and offer a more immersive arts experience.

“Retail can be difficult unless you offer the involvement of an experience of some sort,” Matt Shapiro said.

In addition to the pottery and paint studio, Charmios sells a variety of party supplies - including balloons - as well as arts and crafts products. Charmios also has an on-site kiln for finishing the pottery creations.

The name Charmios — pronounced in the same manner as the cereal Cheerios — came about after an at-home craft project at the Shapiro household while the family lived in California. Then a stay-at-home mom, Yvonne Shapiro made jewelry with charms and the children dubbed the pieces Charmios.

The eldest child is now in high school and all three help out at the new studio and store.

“It’s nice that they are still involved,” Matt Shapiro said. “It’s a good way to teach about responsibility and earning things.”

Charmios opened on June 12 and is the latest business in the now-bustling Lexington Gardens plaza, which opened last year and includes Market Place Kitchen & Bar and Dental Associates. The plaza is built on the site of the long-time plant and home decorating business Lexington Gardens that closed in 2011.

Matt Shapiro, who previously trained Major League Baseball umpires, knew he wanted to be in Lexington Gardens when he first saw it. He called it the “most pedestrian-friendly plaza in town.” He also liked that it was a new plaza and the space could be built to spec.

It was similar to the feeling the Shapiro family got when they moved to Fairfield County from rural northern California.

“We knew we wanted to live in this area, but it was just a question of where,” he said. “Once we saw Sandy Hook, we knew that was the place.”

To view the classes offered at the studio, visit The business is open Tuesday through Sunday and offers discounts for children and seniors. Charmios may be reached at (203) 491-2822.

The writer may be reached at; 203-731-3338