Thirty-four years ago, Easter Sunday — April 11, 1982 — I had recently started my new job with Pitney Bowes, rented a house for us in Fairfield and my family was up from Pennsylvania visiting me for Easter weekend. I wanted to show them the Fairfield area and do some shopping. Not!

When we entered the parking lot where then Finast Supermarket was located, it looked like a ghost town.

I know that Thanksgiving and Christmas are traditionally holidays when everything closes, but this was honestly the first time that we had been caught in the jaws of Easter closings. I apologized to my family and we tried driving to the Trumbull (now Westfield) mall. I figured that G. Fox or one of the other department stores would be open, but once again we discovered a ghost town. The mall was shuttered for Easter.

I remembered saying to my wife that I was hardly against this beautiful holiday but I was frustrated. Even in Reading, Pa., our home at the time, we had found shopping places, other than restaurants, open on Easter. Maybe it was our proximity to Philadelphia and Valley Forge, but the mall in that area was open.

But this blanket closure of virtually every retail outlet in town was disconcerting. So we drove into Manhattan instead where we could walk around and find a lot of places open. I guess we were caught between the quiet religious culture of the Fairfield bedroom community and the robust culture of Manhattan. Either way, it meant driving for over an hour to make the end of the weekend worthwhile for my family.

Fast forward to more current Fairfield and the town has become home to chains like Home Depot, Walmart, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and others. The good news is that those retailers have challenged the Easter holiday to loosen its grip on those of us not of the faith, and provide a little more interesting retail day. Gone are many of the ghost-town parking lots and the day looks like any Sunday.

For instance, the Finast from 34 years ago has now evolved into a Shop Rite store and will be busy on Easter Sunday. Stop & Shop will also be open along with Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. That’s music to our ears since we love the coffee and ice cream in both stores. But Big Y is closed.

The same is true for drug stores like CVS, Walgreen’s and Rite Aid. All will be open on Easter and they offer a wide variety of products, especially for last-minute Easter shoppers.

I was pleased to see that Walmart will be open on Easter for those who want to make a little excursion. Since they have fabric at their stores, going there will be that much more fun.

The Westfield malls in Milford and Trumbull were gray areas. Macy’s and J.C. Penney are closed Easter Sunday, but my information was sketchy about whether some of the stores in the mall, besides Target, which will be closed on Easter, will remain open. My sense is that if the mall is open at all, it will be strictly for walkers who need exercise or the opportunity to just window shop.

I may have some chores to do on Sunday, since our Fairfield University Bookstore is understandably closed and I’ll have the day off. But Home Depot is open for pretty much regular hours, so I should be able to get necessary supplies.

I did find out that Barnes & Noble stores are open unless they are part of malls that close for the Easter holiday, which means that we can also hang out at the Westport or Milford stores if we decide to do that.

The best news about Easter Sunday is that IKEA in New Haven is open for regular hours and that could be a great outing for a few hours.

All this news about open stores on Easter is very refreshing and shows how far our towns have come in the past 34 years. With all due respect to this very religious holiday, which we just don’t happen to celebrate, it’s nice that greater majorities of retailers have recognized the diversity of cultures and religious backgrounds in the area.

So if you’d rather not spend the entire day with the family, grab Easter brunch at a great restaurant and head out for an excursion to Home Depot, Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods.

Steven Gaynes is a Fairfield writer, and his “In the Suburbs” appears each Friday. He can be reached at