The Gateway Shopping Center is ready to welcome two new tenants, Michael’s Arts and Crafts and Mrs. Greens Natural Market, said Robert McGuiness of the Urstadt Biddle Properties Management company (UBP).

Michael’s Arts and Crafts opened its doors for the first time on Friday, Aug. 16, drawing visitors from around the area. Mrs. Green’s Natural Market plans to open Friday, Aug. 30.

With few retail options in the way of natural foods and arts and crafts in the area, UBP felt these new tenants would be poised to offer the Wilton community a great shopping center addition. UBP manages the shopping center, which is privately owned.

When the company opens up the space available to outside proposals, Mr. McGuiness said, they “really look to see what the community needs in terms of shopping experiences. We try to bring in business that complements our center and the surrounding town.”

A selection of arts and crafts, and some natural foods are available at area retailers like Walmart, but a store dedicated to either of those products exclusively is lacking in Wilton and its surrounding towns.

“Take Michael’s for instance,” Mr. McGuiness said. “There is really nothing in the area that is comparable to what they offer. It’s a great place for kids, families and crafts. It fits in nicely with Wilton’s family atmosphere.”

Shoppers at Michael’s Arts and Crafts on Friday were excited such a store had opened in the area.

Janet Lizzarro, of Norwalk, had just exited the store with hands full of Michael’s bags when she said the new store is “just beautiful.” She continued to say the store was brighter, cleaner, and bigger than other Michael’s she had seen.

An added bonus, she said, was the quality of the staff.

“The staff is great,” she said, “it’s like having a personal shopper.”

Her friend, Joanne Jacobs of Darien was pushing a shopping cart full of supplies when she reiterated that point. She also said the parking at the Wilton store was better than parking at other Michael’s stores.

“I loved it,” she said. “The staff were very attentive and knew exactly what we wanted. It’s very hard to park at the Stamford store. It’s so much easier here.”

In a recent press release forwarded from Michael’s, Wilton store manager Ron Cornelius said, “We are thrilled to be joining the Wilton community. Our new store features thousands of products that will inspire every crafter at any level from beginner to expert, plus classes for our customers to learn new skills in painting, cake decorating, knitting, scrapbooking and more.”

Marianne Roseman and her daughter Kelly, both of Weston, were at the store on Friday buying air-dry clay when they expressed their happiness with the new Michael’s.

“We never went to the one in Stamford,” Ms. Roseman said.  “But, we will absolutely be back here.”

Before the new Michael’s opening, they said they did most of their arts and crafts shopping at Jerry’s Artorama, which they hoped would not suffer as a result of the new store.

Mrs. Green’s

Mrs. Green’s Natural Foods Market will be opening on Friday, Aug. 30 in the shopping center.

According to Josh Sigel, the chief information officer at Mrs. Green’s, the market will offer all natural, and organic foods in a warm, honest environment.

“We believe in providing our customers an experience that will delight them,” he said. “That starts from the moment they walk in to the moment they leave. The level of engagement and experience is very different than one would expect. Our store will be very elegant, yet natural and honest.”

Wilton, he said, is an excellent community in need of a store which will provide natural foods, and educate the community on their benefits.

“Wilton is a great community with what we believe is a demographic who cares about their health, and what they eat,” he said. “We want to be able to provide and serve the community with great, local, organic and natural food products.”

On the evening of Thursday, Aug. 29, Mrs. Green’s plans to invite local officials, media, and the public to a preview party at the store.