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City Slighted By CEO's Comment


A comment by the European CEO of the clothing storeGant  in New Haven has drawn the ire of some in the city.

Dirk-Jan Stoppelenburg heads company, and one of his 600 or so stores opened on Broadway in New Haven last year. Here’s what he had to say about New haven in an interview last month:

“Only two things only ever came out of New Haven. Yale University and Gant.”

Soon after Stoppelenburg said those words during an interview with the Indian newspaper the Economic Times, Paul Bass, editor of the New Haven Independent, heard about the comment. He decided to find out what the city's residents thought, standing outside the Gant store and getting their responses on video.

“He knows nothing about what’s going on out here," Yale dining hall worker Theo Coleman told Bass. "So tell him he should come down, maybe and walk around and see what else is coming out of New Haven.”

Coleman was voicing the reactions of many residents to the comment. In fact, New Haven has a lot of great firsts. According to the New Haven Museum, Frisbee was invented here in 1920. The lollipop was introduced here in 1892 and the hamburger came three years later. Gant is known for those classic, Ivy League-style button-down collared shirts. But as Bass traversed Broadway for Gant customers last Friday, he couldn’t find any.

“No one had been inside it. They’d been open for a year and a half, and I went in Gant and there was nobody inside it," Bass recalled. "And there were these made in China shorts that said New Haven on the label that were selling for a hundred thirty bucks.”

Gant was a fixture in the city until it closed its corporate headquarters here in 1979.

A few hours after the New Haven Independent published an article, Stoppelenburg sent Bass a message.

“New Haven is a great city with a rich and longstanding history that extends far beyond Yale and our company heritage,” he wrote. “Please accept my sincerest apology,”