Sarah Winter Clothworks


Store Name Sarah Winter Clothworks
Reviving the industrial heritage of downtown through a unique craftBusiness Type Clothing and Clothing Accessories Stores

NAICS Code 448

Location 31 Church St. , Willimantic, CT 6226

Nearby Businesses Garibaldi’s Restaurant, Jewels Verne, Willimantic Food Co-op, Bench Shop, Treasures (gift store), Sammy’s Barbershop, Swift Waters Artisans Co-op

Owner/Manager Sarah Winter

Special Store Activities n/a

Year Opened 2006


Phone 860-456-9900


Community Profile Willimantic, (Population: 16,000, 10 mile radius population: 90,000) which is Algonquin Indian for Land of the swift running water, is located on the banks of the Willimantic River in Windham County, Connecticut. Willimantic is home to Eastern Connecticut State University, which started as a teacher’s college, and the Windham Textile and History Museum. Willimantic is less than an hour’s drive from the beaches of Connecticut and Rhode Island and is approximately half-way between New York City and Boston

Products Sold & Niche Developed

A visitor to Sarah Winter Clothworks can find a variety of clothing items and cloth bags. The unique thing about this store is that most of the merchandise in the store is made by the owners. A piece of clothing is designed, cut, dyed and sewn by hand using natural fibers, such as hemp and organic cotton. Given that few people sew any more, this business has developed a niche around a traditional and important skill that was once central to the local economy. Clothworks carries standard sizes of their clothing line in their store but customers can also take a style and tailor it to their preferences on size and appearance. Clothworks has carved out a niche for itself in Willimantic not only as a store that features hand-made products, but also one that is ecologically friendly, provides a customizable experience and is celebrating the textile manufacturing history of the Willimantic community.

Market Segments Served

The archetypal Clothworks customers are college-educated men and women, middle-aged or older, who are concerned about environmental and economic issues in the local and world community. This store regularly draws faculty from the nearby University of Connecticut and Eastern Connecticut State University. Before operating the store, the owners of Clothworks sold their products at craft shows all over the East Coast, but now, the vast majority of the clientele is local, coming from approximately a 30 mile radius.

Contributions to the Business Community

Clothworks is one of a group of independently owned businesses in downtown Willimantic that work together to help promote their town through advertising and by referring their customers to the other stores. Also, because the products they sell are made in their store, Clothworks has helped call attention to the textile manufacturing heritage, thus prompting citizens to shop locally and creating a sense of community cohesion.

Review by: Danny Bruce, UW Extension CCED