Capitol Connection: The Roses of Success

July 2, 2014

From the Office of Senator Kevin Witkos

When times are bad it can be extremely difficult to see the good that may lie ahead. But up from the ashes grow the roses of success – or so says my favorite song from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

I recently met with a local business owner who truly embodies this message. Sal Perugini, owner of Hobby & Trophy World in Torrington, can teach us all a little something about making the best of a bad situation; and finding success amid the ashes.

In December 2013, there was a terrible fire at Perugini’s store. Sal lost everything. But he did not give up. Instead, he pulled himself up and reopened – in just four days! His story shocked, confused and amazed me. But once you get to know Sal, you understand how his drive made all this possible.

Perugini was inspired by his father who had his own hobby shop in Waterbury. He loved working with him and wanted to dedicate his life to doing exactly what he loved. So, in May 1985 Perugini and his wife opened up their own store in Torrington.

For almost three decades, Perugini ran his shop happily and uninterrupted. But, on December 11, 2013 everything would change. Perugini woke up to a phone call at 2:00 am. He got up, got dressed, and headed to his store, but by then the fire had destroyed almost everything. Perugini lost it all.

The next few days were trying, but also inspiring. In their time of need, the Perugini’s community took care of them. Friends and neighbors stepped up to help, and within four days the family received over $18,000 in unsolicited donations.

Perugini moved fast. He began leasing another storefront, just 40 feet away from the front door of his original location. He made many trips to local warehouses to get new products and stock his new store for the busy holiday shopping season. In four days, the doors were back open.

Perugini describes himself as an “old fashioned Italian” who believes that if you want something you need to go out and get it. He could have taken the easy way out, and let his business die in that fire. But instead he went after his dream, and rebuilt. It was a rocky road, but with commitment, community support and persistence, he prevailed.

I share Perugini’s story, because I think we can all learn from it. Whether you are running a business, going to school, starting a new career or raising a family there will be challenges in life. You will fall down, but you must always pick yourself back up. And if you really want something, you have to pursue it in spite of obstacles. All this I learned from one local man who had the courage and will to never give up.

Today in Perugini’s store on McDermott Avenue hangs a sign with burnt remnants of merchandise damaged in the fire. The sign reads “Don’t let your dreams go up in smoke.” That’s an attitude and a message we can all take something from.