Category Archives: Local business

Azena Nailed, Too

Azena Nail Spa is the 2nd Westport salon to be slapped with a Stop-Work order by the state Department of Labor.

Like Posh at the other end of town, Azena — next to Barnes & Noble — was charged with “misrepresenting employees as private contractors.”

However, unlike Posh — near Whole Foods — Azena actually followed the order, and shut its doors.

A handwritten sign above the official notice reads:

Dear Customer,

For some reason we close today! Sorry for all the inconvenience!! And we will open tomorrow!

Azena Management

(Photo/Dr. Edward Paul)

(Photo/Dr. Edward Paul)

Nailed?

An alert “06880” reader emailed yesterday. She noticed a “Stop-Work” order taped to the front door of Posh Nail & Spa, next to Whole Foods, and wondered what was up.

I checked it out today. There it was, bright red and very official looking:

Posh Nails 2

Dated yesterday (August 3), the notice from the State Department of Labor Wage & Workplace Standards Division explained the violation: “Misrepresenting employees as private contractors.”

It added that if an employer conducts business operations in violation of the stop-work order, a penalty of $1,000 a day would be assessed.

Posh Nails doesn’t care.

As I took photos of the notice, 3 customers opened the door and walked right in.

An employee — perhaps an owner or manager (definitely not a private contractor, though) — came out.

Posh Nails

When I asked if they were open, she said yes.

When I said, “What about this notice?” she said “No comment.”

Then she took my picture too.

Billy Shot Me — And Your Business?

There it is. After googling a business, you find — along with links and directions — a tab inviting you to “See Inside.” One click brings up handsome, wide-angle exterior and interior views of the store or office that you can pan, rotate and zoom in on — just like Google Earth.

You might think — if you think about it at all — that the owner did a nice job hiring a good photographer who can stitch photos into 360-degree views, then had his webmaster post them nicely.

You’d be wrong. As with all things Google, a very regimented, standardized tool runs the program they very boringly call “Google Business Photos.”

A screenshot of part of The Spotted Horse's virtual tour. Clicking on one of the circular arrows on the bottom images brings up the panoramic view.

A screenshot of part of The Spotted Horse’s virtual tour. Clicking a circular arrow on the bottom images brings up the panoramic view. (Click or hover over to enlarge.)

To get those images posted with a “See Inside” link — available through generic search, Business Pages and clicking on a Google Maps icon — a business owner must use a Google photographer.

The photographer’s training process takes 6 months. The certification process is very rigorous. Mistakes made at the pixel level must be fixed.

Just half a dozen Connecticut photographers have gone through the long process. Westport’s Billy Scalzi is one of them.

A 40-year area resident, he was an institutional bond broker who owned 2 companies. He left Wall Street in 1996, to become a real estate speculator. Photography is Scalzi’s 3rd career.

Billy Shot MeHis company is called Billy Shot Me. Using a DSLR camera — and the same technology as Google Street View — he takes Google Business Photos all over the state. Locally, he’s shot The Spotted Horse, Mumbai Times, Picture This and Volvo of Westport. (He’s also done all the rest stops on I-95 and the Merritt Parkway. The owner is very proud that they’ve all been renovated.)

Outside of Westport, Scalzi has shot doctors’ and dentists’ offices — even a psychiatrist’s. (“He wanted that little balloon man in Google Maps,” Scalzi says.)

Scalzi’s fee begins at $350. But that’s the only charge. Google offers its service for free. And because business owners can embed the photos on their own website and in social media, they’re available to users who find them even through search engines like Bing or Yahoo.

On his own — and gratis — Scalzi is shooting and creating virtual tours of Compo Beach, Longshore and Grace Salmon Park. He wants those to be available to anyone who clicks their links on Google Maps.

Taking a virtual tour before you go — to a restaurant, car dealer or psychiatrist’s office — appeals to some people.

To some business owners too — though not all. “It’s simple marketing,” Scalzi says. “I’m amazed that half of all businesses in the U.S. don’t even have websites.”

Billy Scalzi's 360-degree view of Picture This gives potential customers a great idea of what they'll find.

Billy Scalzi’s 360-degree view of Picture This gives potential customers a great idea of what they’ll find.

 

Balducci’s Replies

Last Tuesday, “06880” reported the various rumors around town that Balducci’s may close.

Balducci’s says they’re not closing. Several days later, chief operating officer Rich Durante replied:

Balducci’s Food Lover’s Market is committed to being the ultimate destination for specialty foods and offer our customers great food, whether it’s quality ingredients, chef prepared meals, or catering options. We look forward to continuing to serve the Westport community.

“06880” readers: Please parse that paragraph.

Balduccis

Plastic Bag Ban Sponsors Respond

In 2008, RTM members Jonathan Cunitz, Liz Milwe, Gene Seidman and Jeff Weiser sponsored the “retail bag ordinance” banning plastic bags in Westport. In response to today’s post about the new CVS bags, they sent this message to “06880”:

RTMWe remain proud of the enlightened action that the Westport RTM took 7 years ago to act responsibly with regard to plastic bags. Ever since Mel Sorcher and Don Wergeles first brought their concerns to our attention, and after nearly a year of organizing, engaging the community, and legislating, the RTM overwhelmingly passed the Plastic Bag Ordinance by a vote of 26-5 on September 2, 2008.

We have been gratified by the strong support that our Plastic Bag Ordinance has gained in the town. It also is gratifying to note that while the ordinance was inspired by a similar, earlier ordinance in San Francisco, ours has been a guide for a number of other towns that have adopted ordinances since 2009.

We conservatively estimate that the town of Westport has eliminated 15 million plastic bags from circulating in our environment, creating a problem in our rivers, Long Island Sound, the Atlantic and beyond. Many Westporters say they are very proud that our town has the distinction of being a leader in the environmental movement, by being the first town east of the Mississippi to ban plastic bags at retail.

CVS bag 1

The CVS bag shown and mentioned in your article this morning directly and intentionally circumvents the spirit of the Plastic Bag Ordinance. While the CVS bag may be technically “legal,” it is certainly contrary to the intention of the law. It’s a way for the plastics industry to stay in the business of providing unnecessary bags.

It is worth noting that the only way plastic shopping bags can be recycled is if the consumer returns them to a grocery store. The recycling rates at grocery stores are well below 10%. The CVS bags will jam Westport’s single-stream recycling machines and continue to be a nuisance, stymying Westport’s recycling efforts.

Westporters have gotten used to bringing reusable bags to the grocery store — and they’ll get used to bringing reusable bags to CVS and Walgreens, all the while being responsible and proud citizens of the environment.

We know that even little efforts make great impact, and show our children that we care about the environment. The plastic bag ban has proven to be successful and should continue to be enforced.. CVS will respond to public pressure. So, next time when you are in CVS, just say no to their plastic bags!

 

Recycling The Bag Ban At CVS

In 2008, when Kim Lake served on Westport’s Green Task Force, the group prodded the RTM to ban plastic bags. The 26-5 vote made this the 1st municipality east of the Mississippi to enact such legislation.

Despite fears ranging from deforestation to the cost of potential litigation, Westporters adapted easily. We now tote reusable bags without a second thought, and find it archaic that out-of-town merchants still use plastic bags.*

So the other day Kim did a double take. Instead of a paper bag, she got this at CVS:

CVS bag 1

I got a similar bag last week. I was surprised too.

Kim — who in addition to being an alert “06880” reader, is also an attorney — fished out the old ordinance.

The CVS bag meets — even exceeds — the legal standards, she says. Any retail reusable bag must have at least 40% post-consumer recycled material. This one has “at least 80%” — according to the bag, anyway.

But read the fine print. It’s “designed for at least 125 uses.” We’re advised to clean the bag by rinsing it, then hanging it upside down to dry.

Yes, and after doing that, you and I will read the 57,000-word terms of service before clicking “agree” the next time we download a new version of iTunes!

CVS bag 2

Kim wonders how “reusable” this plastic bag really is. “It looks a lot like a disposable plastic bag that the rule was written to eradicate,” she says.

What do you think? Is this the beginning of the end for Westport’s plastic bag ban? Does the ordinance need revision? Or should we just bag this whole environmental thing? Click “Comments” below to weigh in.

*Except at Stew’s.

The Rumor Mill Churns

Anthropologie has announced its move to bigger digs in Bedford Square. A new tenant will eventually move into the current location on Post Road East.

But big changes may be in store for Balducci’s next door too.

Several folks have contacted “06880,” saying that — just a few months after renovation — the store may close. Rumors swirl regarding rent issues.

Architect types have been spotted touring the buildings and parking lot.

If Balducci’s goes — and with Garelick & Herbs moving to the Southport line — the east end of Westport may soon become a gourmet food desert.

Balduccis

Those Pesky Red Lights

This is not stop-the-presses news:

The other day, someone ran a red light in front of Trader Joe’s.

This time though, the driver did not simply scare the crap out of a poor person attempting to exit from Compo Acres Shopping Center, through The Worst Intersection In The Entire Multiverse.

The driver — roaring east on the Post Road — denied running the light.

That did not sit well with Bruce Leavitt. He’s the husband of the woman who was hit. He knows how common it is for drivers to race through the light.

In 20 minutes, he saw it happen more than once. He also saw how tough it is for drivers leaving the shopping center; a large sign blocks the view of traffic coming from the left.

Bruce took this video, of a common sight:

(If your browser does not take you directly to YouTube, click here.)

Now he wants others to do the same. And not just at the Trader Joe’s/CVS Intersection From Hell — anywhere else in town you think there’s a problem.

If we get enough, we’ll publish them on “06880.”

And then we’ll have actual proof, to convince someone — the Connecticut Department of Transportation? Shopping center owners? The Traffic Genie? — to do something.

“Remove a sign. Delay timing on a light. Crack down on light runners…” Bruce suggests.

Send videos (via YouTube or Vimeo format) to dwoog@optonline.net. As the saying goes, “It can’t hurt.”

Unless, that is, you get hit by a Very Important Driver running a very clear red light.

This is the light in question. Drivers exiting from the Trader Joe's lot (dark car) often have to contend with cars flying through the red light on the Post Road, from the left

This is the light in question. Drivers exiting from the Trader Joe’s lot (dark car) often have to contend with cars flying through the red light on the Post Road, from the left

Sweet Saugatuck

Some people might see this as a perfect summer afternoon: relaxing at the plaza by Saugatuck Sweets.

Others might see the cellphone and the I-95 bridge.

What do you think? Is the ice cream cone half empty, or half full?

Lazy hazy days

World Orphan Disease Community Gets A Local Push

MadisonMott is a relatively small Westport branding and marketing firm with a big portfolio.

madisonmott logoFrom funky Saugatuck digs, they handle logos, identity development, web design and massive content management platforms. Clients like the Yale School of Music, a French wine seller and a Puerto Rican property love MadisonMott’s blend of hip creativity and pure professionalism.

ClearPharma is a fledgling Westport company seeking to make a big name in the “orphan disease” world. They’re creating an online software platform called onevoice. It’s designed to build communities by providing the 2 things that patients and families who suffer from 7,000 rare illnesses most crave: emotional support and curated disease information.

Despite its international scope, MadisonMott is proud of its local roots. And onevoice creator Dan Donovan — a native Westporter — likes to use as many local resources as he can.

Their partnership was solidified thanks to Staples High School soccer. Donovan captained the state championship 1981 team. MadisonMott founder/CEO Luke Scott also played for the Wreckers, graduating 10 years later.

onevoiceShowing a flair for learning about new and totally unfamiliar subjects, Scott and his team jumped into the project. MadisonMott first created a logo for onevoice.

Very quickly, they moved onto more technical challenges. The online platform — to be rolled out later this year, linking thousands of diseases that pharmaceutical companies traditionally have not cared about, and medical researchers overlook. To promote the platform, MadisonMott built the product website. “It’s the coolest site I’ve ever seen,” Donovan says.

Donovan brought Scott to trade shows, including the World Orphan Drug Conference in Washington, DC. They left with 69 leads — nearly all of them solid. Donovan credits a lot of the success to MadisonMott’s deep understanding of what onevoice is trying to accomplish.

“They’re as much a part of us as my own team,” Donovan says.

“And they’re almost part of us,” Scott agrees.

A screen shot from the onevoice platform.

A screen shot from the onevoice platform.

“This is a very tangible thing,” Donovan — who had a long career in pharmaceuticals, then formed his own company focusing on medical publications — says.

“We’re meeting patients and families who are impacted every day by rare diseases. This is so meaningful.”

“We’re a marketing and branding company,” Scott says. “But it’s nice to know we can help impact lives.”

The marketing industry has already paid notice. The Connecticut Art Director’s Club presented MadisonMott with 2 gold awards, for the OneVoice logo and website.

Soon, the entire orphan disease community will take note too.