Klingerman travels: New London firm moves to East Lyme

East Lyme - After 53 years in business in downtown New London, Klingerman Travel has completed a move to this town's Flanders section.

In the last several weeks, the travel agency has pulled up stakes in New London and Old Saybrook, where it had an office for 48 years, and consolidated its operations at 301 Flanders Road, not far from Flanders Four Corners.

The new location is next door to Carlo & Son Quality Meats, a popular butcher shop.

"It was a challenge," Judy Klingerman Wood, the agency's vice president, said this week. "Once we decided to consider moving out of New London, we thought, 'Do we really need an office in Old Saybrook and one in East Lyme?'"

The agency's lease of its Boston Post Road location in Old Saybrook expired at the end of June.

Fortunately, Wood said, Klingerman was able to retain all of the employees who worked at its New London and Old Saybrook locations - six full-timers and two part-timers. Her father, Al Klingerman, who founded the agency in 1961, still comes into work every day at age 91, she said.

Wood's sister, Alice Klingerman Stickney, is president of the agency.

Al Klingerman still owns the 11 Bank St. storefront where the agency was so long a New London fixture, as well as the building next door at the corner of Bank and State streets. That building, with the address of 38-46 State St., houses the East Bank Gift Shop.

"It's been up for sale for a number of years," Wood said of the property. "It's all rented, except for the space the travel agency left. Once it's cleaned up, we'll seek a tenant."

Wood was among a group of New London merchants who earlier this year expressed dissatisfaction with city government and the quality of some of the services it provides, including snow and garbage removal and the enforcement of parking regulations.

"We were just not happy with the way things were going … with the direction New London was taking," she said. "Clients were not happy with the parking situation."

One advantage of the travel agency's East Lyme location is its parking lot, Wood said.

East Lyme First Selectman Paul Formica was instrumental in the agency's landing in East Lyme, according to Wood.

"When he heard we were interested in leaving, he came into the New London office and asked what we needed," she said. "I was impressed by that."

The agency considered a downtown Niantic address before settling on the Flanders Road site, Wood said. The location's previous tenant was a massage parlor.

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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