Asian lifestyle store Üni-Home Life opens on Chapel Street

The gift shop was started by two New Haven residents and offers stationery, stuffed animals and home decor.

Joshua Zhang

1:45 a.m., October 25, 2022

Collaborating journalist

Joshua Zhang, collaborating photographer

Üni-Home Life officially opened on October 1, bringing its many colorful products to New Haven.

The Asian lifestyle store and gift shop is located on Chapel Street, directly across from Vanderbilt Hall on Old Campus – a location within walking distance of the residences of many Yalies. New Haven residents Christine Lin and Szeki Lam jointly own and operate the new store.

“It’s like a gift shop, we have all kinds of gifts: [things] you may need to decorate your house or apartment, [like] stationery, stuffed animals,” Lin said. “We’re trying to bring something cute, something fresh, something unique to the community, because I’ve lived in New Haven for about four years and I love this city.”

The store offers a wide range of products, ranging from phone cases and keyboards to towels with animal designs. Üni-Home Life does not currently have a website, but they operate a PageInstagram under the handle @unilife_yale. On their Instagram feed, viewers can see a variety of products that they sell on their store.

Lin and Lam are both from China, where they said they often saw stores with a similar aesthetic to Üni-Home Life. For them, opening this store is a dream come true, as they can finally bring this experience to New Haven.

“[Üni-Home Life] brings back my childhood, my teenage years, so it’s kind of a dream,” Lin explained. “We had this idea about a year ago, so we prepared this store for a whole year and now it’s finally open.”

As a resident of New Haven, Lin said she became familiar with the retail and restaurant businesses in the area. She said that while New Haven has many great restaurants, it lacks the retail and shopping scene. For Lin, the opening of Üni-Home Life is a solution to this problem.

“I’ve always loved this cute stuff, so I had a hard time finding these products that I love in New Haven or Connecticut,” Lin said. “I thought maybe there were a lot of people like me.”

Those who pass by the Üni-Home Life window will notice stuffed animal decorations in the window. The interior of the store is lined with rows of colorful products, maintaining the cute and playful aesthetic described by Lin.

Chun-Yuan Chang, a recent Üni-Home Life customer, told the News that she came across the new store while visiting New Haven from New Jersey.

“We first saw the stuffed pumpkin, which is really cute, and I saw a lot of cute Korean and Japanese dolls,” Chang said. “That’s why we came in.”

Chang has other similar products from brands online, but she said she doesn’t personally know of any stores like Üni-Home Life in the area where she lives.

Porter Guite and Maya Quintmam, both residents of Hamden, first saw the new store when they came to Chapel Street for the New Haven Night Market.

“We went to the night market here on Chapel Street and [the store] had just opened,” Quintmam said. “There was this big goose [plushie] so we wanted to come in and it was like, ‘Oh my God,’ [because] we had not seen this store before.”

Guite added that she “really liked the little stuffed animals they had and the stationery,” and said the store was “the perfect place” to find some cute stuff to buy.

Gloria Kim ’26 told The News that Üni-Home Life’s unique styles are both adorable and affordable.

“I think it’s very cute and minimalistic, and the prices are very affordable, so I love going there,” Kim said, “I think there should be more Asian stores in New Haven. … There connects to home.

For some students like Kim, who comes from an Asian background, the lack of Asian businesses in New Haven may be an adjustment upon arriving at Yale. However, she said the opening of Üni-Home Life provides another outlet for Asian students to feel more at home.

“Back home, we have a lot of Korean stores in Koreatown, H Mart,” Kim said. “We have stationery and all those things, … but in New Haven, there’s just not a lot of Asian culture. I think Üni Life reminds me of… all the things I could buy back home. …Overall, I think [Üni-Home Life] is a great addition to New Haven.”

Üni-Home Life is located at 1046 Chapel Street.

Lyle L. Maltby