Hustle | Grit | Success
Three signs behind the bar at Nutrition on Railroad proclaim the life philosophy of Cassidy Considine, a young entrepreneur who returned to Canaan to throw her energy into building her own business empire and to promote the revitalization of her home town.
“I was born and raised in Canaan,” she said. “I didn’t expect to move back but I knew if I was going to open a business, I felt strongly that it should be in Canaan. If I can make this work here, I can make it work anywhere.”
“It” is a shop specializing in protein drinks and teas, a far cry from the pragmatism of the clothing, hardware, jewelry and drug stores that formerly lined the streets. Now those businesses have largely disappeared as chain stores and online shopping have lured customers with lower prices and larger selections so Considine decided that something different was in order.
And she may be on to something. In the five months since she first opened her doors, she has built a continually expanding clientele base with customers returning regularly to buy favorite concoctions and to sample her new creations. Often, they even request her to come up with flavors not yet on the menu.
“I sell protein shakes that are high-protein, low in calories and with low sugar,” she said. “We keep the sugars really low by not adding fruits.”
Because the shakes have many essential vitamins and nutrients found in a meal, they are becoming a favorite breakfast for many on their way to work. “Breakfast is definitely our busiest time of the day,” Considine said. “We get a rush with people going to work so we have incorporated online ordering so we can have their drinks waiting for them.”
Favorites with the breakfast crowd are oatmeal shakes, made hot, or “cookie dough,” its alternative form, served cold.
She also specializes in energizing teas that contain aloe which is good for digestion and which give the mind a boost in clarity. “The teas are sugar-free, boost metabolism and are a great energy alternative,” she said. “People combine them with the oatmeal shake and it’s like having a meal.”
Hot oatmeal may sound comforting on cold morning but it is, well—prosaic. Considine is not constrained in her creations however and is constantly creating new variations. “We can make so many different flavors we have separated them into categories—peanut butter, chocolate, fruit …,” she said. “If you’re looking for another flavor, we can make it. We’re the Baskin Robbins of protein shakes.”
Indeed she is inspired by seasons and holidays. September brought shakes based on Ben & Jerry flavors and mocktail-inspired teas. With Halloween on the horizon, her teas and shakes have taken on a wicked novelty with offerings such as Basic Witch, a layered tea with grape, green apple and a hint of lime or The Mummy, a vanilla base with maple and caramel throughout, a maple syrup drizzle and whipped cream on top. The Frankenstein screams Halloween: a chocolate peanut butter shake infused with a green, fat reducing, hunger controlling CLA shot (conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is a contender for the weight-loss miracle pill).
If a customer does not want their shake at the precise time of pick up, the mix can be sold dry for later preparation.
Considine said she was previously a teacher but found herself unhappy in her profession. She was living in Simsbury with her boyfriend, Andrew Pelletier, a civil engineer who was equally unhappy in his employment. “I didn’t necessarily have a plan but I didn’t want to do something I didn’t like for the rest of my life,” she said. “I always had a summer job working at a place like this. I was able to regain a lot of happiness and some health doing this and found I actually lost some weight.”
So, when her boyfriend suggested throwing it all over and moving to Canaan, she said she “felt strongly about bringing something different back to Canaan. I thought how cool it would be to offer something new here. We both jumped in with both feet. It’s been a lot of late nights and hard work trying to make it work.”
There has been some skepticism about her endeavor, even among family. When asked, “Why Canaan?” she replies, “I’ve had a lot of that. Even my parents have wondered if it will lose its attraction but health doesn’t go out of style. People have different interests, whether it is to reach weight goals or better health. I hope to be here in years to come and to open new stores in other towns.
“People ask if business will fall off in winter but I plan to stay open. That’s the whole point—you have to work hard to get where you want to be. I could have gone anywhere but I chose my hometown for a reason. When I grew up here there were no empty storefronts. Now people are coming here and building businesses again.”
So far, that plan seems to be working. Her clientele comes from towns such as Millerton, Torrington and Great Barrington. “There is nothing in the region like our shop,” she observed. “I have young kids coming in and liking it. I have middle-aged men and young teenaged girls. When I first opened, I thought it would just be me but now I have two others working with me.”
Still, she says, the evanescent rebirth of the Canaan center relies on the willingness of people to support its growing economy. “People think it is cool to have it growing again but we need the continued support of the townspeople.”
Shop is open Monday through Friday, 7 AM-4 PM; Saturday, 9AM-3PM, and Sunday, 9 AM-2 PM.