Jeff Weiss, the owner of Cardingtons at Paradise Green, has a goal to reach for: the store his grandmother runs in Brookline, Mass., called Irving's Toy & Card Shop.
"That store is a piece of history up there," Weiss said. "It's been open since 1924."
Weiss only opened Cardingtons, at 3649 Main St., in July 2010, so he has a ways to go before it is considered a piece of Stratford history.
The store stocks greeting cards at discount prices, plus gifts for all occasions and toys. It is open seven days a week.
Weiss said he had worked in sales since college and believed the time was right to start his own business. "I just decided I wanted to do my own thing," he said.
He grew up in Fairfield, graduated in 1998 from the University of Rhode Island, and now lives in Milford.
Since college, he had a series of inside sales jobs. He sold mortgages for a while and worked at Priceline.com in Norwalk where he met company spokesman William Shatner at a Christmas party.
He said he didn't actually get to talk to the actor, famous for playing starship commander Captain Kirk on Star Trek. Shatner was at Priceline's Norwalk headquarters to give a morale speech to the employees.
Weiss is hopeful about the store's prospects, with the approach of Valentine's Day, one of the three top annual occasions for greeting card sales (the others are Mother's Day and Christmas). "We're getting ramped up for it now," he said.
And his store stocks numerous gift items related to the Super Bowl XLVI teams, the New York Giants and the New England Patriots.
"In the summer, it's Yankees and Red Sox," noted Cardingtons employee Karen Mennona.
Weiss said his biggest challenge is spreading the word of the store's existence. "Not everyone knows we're here," he said.
He thought of the name for the store himself and all those he asked said it sounded good to them. "It's kind of sophisticated."
In fact, some customers ask if Cardingtons is a chain. "This is it, the only location," Weiss said.
Are you a fan of Cardingtons? Tell us in the comments.