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West Hartford Businesses Update: Arsen’s Gym Opens and New Store “Lil Hope” Coming Soon

A round-up of openings, closings, and other news about West Hartford businesses. Business Buzz is sponsored by NBT Bank, and we are very thankful for their support! By Ronni Newton

Even though today is the first Monday of August, a full week of this month has passed by. Although the weather this summer has been pretty lousy (with the exception of last week), I’m hoping to eke out every moment of beach time I can on our annual August family time on Nantucket. While I am not completely disconnecting I’m hoping that West Hartford remains relatively quiet for the next two weeks, and thanks in advance to intern Bridget Bronsdon and other collaborators for holding down the fort! We are having a celebration of life for my father-in-law at the end of our vacation and have lots of family members coming out for that, but I’m also hoping to have some much needed time sitting on the beach and reading, as well as biking and running (got through a tough 7.1 miles on Sunday morning) and of course enjoying lots of great food and drink. Sunday was one of those perfect beach days that we always dream about, and Millie had a great time taking some dips in the ocean, too – at least up to the tops of her paws!

Millie at the beach, August 2023. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

We didn’t have a chance to go out for either lunch or dinner last week, but I did have an amazing egg sandwich at Small State Provisions’ new bakery and coffee shop in Avon. I’m working on a full story about West Hartford resident Kevin Masse’s expansion of his business, but consider the below photo a tease …
Baked eggs with arugula on potato focaccia with an aioli sauce, and an Alvarium coffee at Small State Provisions. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

I am certainly going to be squeezing every last moment of summertime out of the next few weeks, we already bought and donated school supplies and families are talking about who their kids’ teachers are or are finalizing plans for heading off to college, and when I was running on the Conard track last week the football team was already practicing.

I’m just going to leave this quote here. A friend of mine posted this passage from “Tuck Everlasting” on Facebook on the first of August a few years ago, and it really hit me. ( file photo)

If you’re looking for news about West Hartford in print please note that many stories from, as well as other local news, is published in the twice-monthly issues of the West Hartford Press. If you have information to share about local businesses, please provide details in the comments or email Ronni Newton at [email protected].


Here’s this week’s Buzz:

Arsen’s Gym opens Aug. 12 at 17 Andover Drive in West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

Arsen’s Gym will be opening on Saturday, Aug. 12, at 17 Andover Drive in West Hartford (off Oakwood Avenue). I met with owner Arsen Sapsa last week to hear about the opening plans, and what makes his gym stand out from the other fitness facilities in West Hartford.

“It’s for people who want to lift weights,” Arsen said. It’s flashy, and everything is black. There aren’t movies, or basketball courts, or a pool – but there is every type of weightlifting machine you could imagine.

“We have all the basic stuff, plus the cool stuff,” he said. And there are plenty of duplicates of the popular machines so there shouldn’t be any need for waiting around inside the voluminous 10,000 square foot gym that was created out of several long-vacant spaces in the industrial park.

And while Arsen’s Gym does not have classes, they do offer personal training. Arsen said he moved to Connecticut from Ukraine with his family at age 4. “We came here for a better life, and we made it happen,” he said.

The West Hartford location is his fourth gym (the others are in Orange, Stratford, and Wallingford), and the New Haven County resident said he said he started looking in West Hartford after realizing that people were driving from West Hartford and the surrounding area all the way to Wallingford.

“We saw there was a need, and the stars aligned,” he said.

In addition to the extensive assortment of machines – like 12 different kinds of leg presses – he noted that they have dumbbells in weights ranging from 5 pounds all the way to 150 pounds. The equipment is competition-rated, and power lifters have access to weights that are measured in kilograms, he said – which is what they use in bench, squat, and deadlift competition – rather than measured in pounds as most gyms have. There are also private posing rooms with mirrors, so that body builders can check their form.

Memberships begin at $50 per month for those who sign an annual contract, and there is 24-hour access for members and an available membership that provides access to the other facilities as well. And there may be more of those soon. “We are planning on franchising across the country. That’s the future plan,” Arsen said.

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Weights at Arsen’s Gym in West Hartford are measured in kilograms, which is what is used in power lifting competition. Photo credit: Ronni Newton
Arsen’s Gym opens Aug. 12 at 17 Andover Drive in West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton
Arsen’s Gym opens Aug. 12 at 17 Andover Drive in West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton
Arsen’s Gym opens Aug. 12 at 17 Andover Drive in West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton
Arsen’s Gym opens Aug. 12 at 17 Andover Drive in West Hartford. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

A few weeks ago in this column we featured the plans shared by Hope & Stetson owner Emma Muchin to open a second store in West Hartford Center, and now they have shared the name: Lil Hope.

Lil Hope will be opening this fall at 18 LaSalle Road, in the space recently vacated by SockStarz. “Over the years, we have gotten so many requests for more baby & children pieces, so this fall, we will be able to give you all just that!” states a post on Hope & Stetson’s Facebook page. The new store will be the place to shop for “all things baby, kids, and even a little maternity,” and will allow for the expansion of popular departments at Hope & Stetson’s 982 Farmington Avenue store, such as denims, basics, and sweaters.

Lil Hope will be opening at 18 LaSalle Road.
Lil Hope will be opening at 18 LaSalle Road.

Budr, West Hartford’s first cannabis retailer, had its grand opening and a ribbon cutting last Monday morning. There were about a dozen people in line before the ribbon cutting at 8 a.m. Monday. The store opened at 9 a.m. and the first 50 people in line received a 50% product discount. The first person in line was a woman from New Britain, who said she was up early after her cats woke her up and got in line at 5:50 a.m.

I joined members of the Town Council and Chamber of Commerce for a tour of the back-of-house area of the facility, where security is even tighter than it is in the rest of the space. “Cannabis can’t be stored outside of this vault,” said Derrick Gibbs, co-owner with Carl Tirella of Budr. All product is pre-packaged, and there is no loose material – nor is there any odor. Each transaction is limited to 7 grams, and there is a 28-gram daily maximum. At the opening, Gibbs also noted that while Budr is a retailer not a medical marijuana dispensary, “We do have a program where we give discounts to medical card holders.” More details about Budr can be found by clicking here.

Ribbon cutting at Budr, 1037 Boulevard. Photo credit: Ronni Newton
Budr co-owners Derrick Gibbs (left) and Carl Tirella. Photo credit: Ronni Newton
There were people in line waiting for the opening of Budr in West Hartford on July 31. The first 50 people received a 50% discount. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

There are a few new stores preparing to open at Westfarms,…

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