MYSTIC – When Mystical Toys closed permanently at the end of last season and the building was sold, it left a void at the corner of East Main and Cottrell streets, just east of the famous Mystic River Bascule bridge.
The owners of the Whaler’s Inn, which acquired the building last fall, have long-term plans for redevelopment at the site, but a partnership ahead of the summer season offers local residents and visitors a chance to learn more about the history of the bridge, pick up a brochure about Mystic area events, or pick up a souvenir and other Mystic-specific clothing.
It’s a testament to the Whaler’s Inn and its team’s dedication to being good business partners, said Greater Mystic Chamber of Commerce Director Bruce Flax, but more importantly, it provided an unexpected opportunity for the chamber and the Specialty startup apparel retailer Just Mystic is bringing a historical exhibit and Mystic-focused gift shop to the bridge for the 100th anniversary of the Mystic Bridge.
“As they say, timing is everything, and with the sale and redevelopment of this place, there were no plans to use it in the upcoming season,” Flax explained. “Work can be done on the back half of the building, but there was plenty of space in the front so we were able to use the front part to open up the visitor center.
“It’s a great opportunity to really show off some of these great photographs and artwork of the bridge, and to encourage people to stop by and learn more about this historic site,” he added. .
Upon entering the site of the former Mystical Toys store, which for years attracted visitors young and old with an assortment of novelty items, the front half of the store now offers a more open and shared venture with entrepreneurs brothers Robert Nelson and Amanda Cummings, founders of boutique Just Mystic, which offers a range of quality clothing bearing the Mystic label, including bags, hats, shirts, beachwear and more.
Nelson said the new venture, which was only recently launched, grew from an idea that came to the siblings last summer during several trips to visit their parents, who are residents of Mystic. After looking at tourist destinations in southern New England, including Martha’s Vineyard, Cape Cod and Narragansett, they realized there was an untapped market in town for simple but quality local clothing.
“There were a number of communities in other places that were well represented, but that marketing concept was not something that was picked up here,” Nelson said. “Our goal is simple, and that is to provide simple, clean, and classic Mystic branded clothing.”
The company is already fully operational online, JustMystic.comand on Instagram, @JustMysticShop, and the temporary storefront will provide the store with a temporary home for the summer while the search continues for a more permanent storefront, Cummings said.
“At this time, we’re excited to continue what we’re doing and look to grow our brand,” Cummings said.
Just behind Just Mystic, the Greater Mystic Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with several local organizations, opened a new visitor center last week that will serve as an additional stop for visitors to enjoy and learn about the history of the bridge. mystical.
The wall-to-wall exhibit, which includes many historic photos of the bridge from the first automobile crossing to recent renovations and artistic photographs, will guide people through an interactive tour of its history. The tour is available through a new Bridge Anniversary app now available for most iPhone and Android devices.
“There’s so much history here, and we’ve already had feedback from people who said they’ve come and learned things they’ve never known, even those who’ve lived here their whole lives. “, said Flax.
The new app includes a variety of on-the-go options and can allow users to search by type of business, restaurant or use an interactive map, but will also include the “Bridge Trail” this summer, a separate feature to be launched on 27 may. and includes limited-time Bridge Anniversary items, promotions and offers from 50 area businesses.
Flax said the chamber, in partnership with the Mystic River Historical Society, will also sell a 56-page commemorative booklet produced by the historical society that honors the long history and beauty of the Mystic River Bascule Bridge.
All of these are part of the larger, season-long buildup to a fireworks display and memorial celebration scheduled for Oct. 15 and sponsored by Foxwoods, Flax noted. Proceeds from product sales will help sponsor the event, along with four separate $4,000 scholarships to be awarded by Foxwoods to a student from Westerly, Stonington, Ella T. Grasso Southeastern Technical and Fitch High Schools.
With the bridge serving as a passage for around 11,800 cars and even more pedestrians every day – up to 1.8 million cars during the summer season – Flax said he expects heavy use of the center.
“There are potentially tens of thousands of people who could come over the summer, and this provides an opportunity to showcase our downtown community in a way that will really draw positive attention to Mystic.”