DANBURY, Conn. — A visit from Elizabeth Esty was music to the ears of Russ Mumma, owner of the Music Guild, as the congresswoman dropped by his shop during a walking tour of small businesses in Danbury on Wednesday morning.
As part of the tour, Esty (D-5th District) stopped in at four Main Street businesses — the Music Guild, AWA Medical Supplies, Irene Rocha Bridal and the Workspace Collaborative.
“The backbone of our communities really are small businesses," Esty said. “They don’t get special favors, they don’t have lobbyists, they work so hard and they make our communities special.
“They are usually family-run and really driven by passion," she said.
She spoke at length to the owners and managers at each business, learning how they market their businesses, the challenges they face and how she can advocate for their needs at the federal level.
Part of the purpose of tour was to remind residents to support their local businesses.
“You have your friends and neighbors who are right here in town providing distinctive, important, fun services," Esty said. "That’s the backbone of our economy and the backbone of our community.
“Those at the state and local level need to be working together to support not just the big companies that make the headlines when they negotiate a deal, but our small businesses that really are the backbone of making our communities distinctive."
While Esty looked through Mumma's extensive inventory of items at the Music Guild, he invited her to his store's upcoming 50th anniversary bash.
“We have had a lot of celebrities over the years, and have customers from as far as Poland and Korea. It’s been an interesting trip,” Mussa said of his decades in business.
At AWA Medical Supplies, general officer Juana Rivera told Esty that since the business opened in 2004, "Our goal has always been to treat everyone as if they are family.
“At the end of the day, you’re not here because you want to be here — it’s a necessity, it’s something that you need," Rivera added.
The next stop on the tour was at Irene Rocha Bridal, a 3-year-old business that sells dresses and provides tailoring services.
Owner Irene Rocha told Esty that she works hard to please every customer with her dress designs. Her customers, who come from far and wide, have included Miss Connecticut and Miss USA.
“My customers drive here from New York, New Jersey and Stamford," Rocha said.
Esty was accompanied by state Rep. David Arconti (D-Danbury), Stephen Bull from the Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce, and PJ Prunty, executive director at CityCenter Danbury, which selected the small businesses for the tour.