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DISCLAIMERThis blog is personal opinion, and is not representative of the views of the Westport School District or Board of Education.
I know a little about a lot of things.
I know nothing about luxury handbags. But, I’m told, Welden Bags are big.
Don’t take my word for it. Here’s what their promotional video says:
The unique hand-weaving techniques developed by Welden artisans have been honed for decades and passed down from generation to generation. In an industry dominated by machines, the team at Welden was inspired to protect the legacy of this time-honored craft and the exceptional care and dedication of its artisans.
However, this isn’t a story about handbags. It’s about one of the women behind the handbag company.
Of course, she’s a Westporter.
Cori Caputo is a product of Kings Highway Elementary, Bedford Middle and Staples High Schools (Class of 1994), she headed to Fashion Institute of Technology for a short stint, while still living at home.
In her early 20s she moved to New York. She worked her way up from sales to buyer at Intermix, then ran Mulberry’s wholesale North America division.
She got married in 2010, had a baby and — now known as Cori Caputo Adams — moved back to Westport in 2013.
She worked from home, running a small California handbag brand. She met Sandy Friesen in 2016, while chatting with a fellow mom in her daughter’s ballet class.
Sandy was looking to expand the business she’d founded: Welden Bags. Cori soon partnered with her.
Her 2nd baby arrived the next year. But — still working from home — Cori helped launch Welden’s China market, with retail giant Alibaba.
As I said, I’m not a handbag type of guy. But I’ve been told Cori is “an exceptional Westporter, mom at home raising 2 kids, wife, business lady, all around person, and a total kick-butt product of our ‘system.'”
Gotta hand it to her!
(Hat tip: Lindsay Shurman)
Torrential downpours a week apart brought flash floods to Westport, earlier this month.
But they weren’t hurricanes. And they weren’t the first times floods caused havoc here.
Earlier this year Bill Coley — a 1967 graduate of Staples High School, and a descendant of the founders of the Coleytown section of town — was sorting through old photos.
He found 2 from August 1955. Back-to-back hurricanes — Connie and Diane — had just pummeled Westport.
The images show what was left of the old stone bridge that carried North Avenue over the Aspetuck River. Bill is 5 years old, standing with his father on Coleytown Road looking north on North Avenue.
He had heard a WMMM radio announcer say the North Avenue bridge was out. Bill’s father didn’t believe it. He had to drive over and see for himself.
Bill’s father was born, and grew up in, the house on the road just north of the river. Bill’s great-grandfather was born in the house where Paul Newman lived.
The bridge has been replaced. And Paul and Joanne Woodward’s house still stands.
Westport has laid out a strong case as the setting for “The Great Gastsby.”
Great Neck is firing back.
Westporters know the story: historian Deej Webb and filmmaker Robert Steven Williams say that F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgeralds’ 1920 sojourn here informed not only the author’s physical description of Jay Gatsby’s mansion, but also much of the novel’s emotional power.
They also believe that Westport influenced nearly all of Fitzgerald’s ouevre.
Not so fast, Long Island counters.
“Everyone knows that Great Neck was the setting for ‘The Great Gatsby,’ don’t they?” a flyer from that town’s historical society asks.
And then answers: “Apparently, not everyone!”
“There are those who believe that Fitzgerald was really talking about — of all places — Westport, Connecticut,” the Great Neck Historical Society explains.
After mentioning Webb and Williams’ PBS film and companion book — plus stories in the New York Times, Newsday and more — the GNHS announces that the duo will discuss their findings and answer audience questions at a “special presentation.”
It’s this Sunday (October 21), 1:30 p.m. at the Great Neck Public Library main branch. GNHS president Alice Kasten will “defend” — their word — Great Neck’s “historical and literary honor” (ditto).
She recently took Webb and Williams on a Great Neck tour, “pointing out details to substantiate the long-held belief that Fitzgerald was writing about Great Neck and Port Washington.”
“They even interviewed me for their film,” she says. “I showed them how Fitzgerald had to be writing about our hometown.”
The GNHS calls this a “bound-to-be-controversial program.” It’s free, and open to the public.
Which means Westporters — defending our own honor — can pack the house. Click here for directions!
(Hat tip: Marcia Falk)
Hot peppers and spicy margaritas are on the menu this Sunday (October 21, 1 to 5 p.m.) at Viva Zapata’s.
That’s not unusual. But the popular Mexican restaurant has added another attraction: 30% of total sales will be donated to the ALS Therapy Development Institute.
It’s Viva’s 2nd annual ALS Pepper Challenge Day. In addition to the drinks (and very hot peppers), participants can buy ALS Pepper Challenge t-shirts, hats and other gear.
You’ll get a chance to greet the Haberstroh family too. They started Pepper Challenge last Christmas on behalf of Patty, the well-known Westporter who is battling ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease).
In less than a year the movement has spread around the globe. Kelly Clarkson, Charles Barkley, Garth Brooks and Jimmy Kimmel are among the thousands of people taking the challenge. They’ve raised over $625,000 toward finding a cure.
Now you can help the ALS Pepper Challenge too. It’s no wonder Viva’s is known as one of Westport’s “hottest” restaurants.
(For more information, click here. For sponsorship and donation opportunities, email firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Mention “downtown shopping,” and Westporters think first of Main Street.
That’s long been our retail heart. But it’s not the only one.
For more than half a century, Sconset Square has sat happily — and with plenty of parking — just a few yards from Main Street. It’s attracted local merchants, with a variety of offerings. Its stores (and restaurants and services, like tailors) have loyal clienteles.
Sconset (which started life as Sherwood) Square is an often-overlooked, and quite successful — piece of Westport’s retail puzzle.
Wende Cohen is one of those long-time merchants. But she did not set out to be one.
More than 2 decades ago she moved here from New York City for the usual reasons: 2 kids, more room, beaches, golf, the schools and community.
Wende had worked in magazine ad sales, before turning to her next job of raising kids. But her mother-in-law was in the antiques business, and when Wende traveled with her on European buying trips, she was hooked.
More than 2 decades ago — while still in her 20s — she opened a store called Bungalow, in the former Brandman’s Paints in Sconset Square.
She loved being part of the small shopping center. There was a camera store, a travel agency and more. Through the shop she met people outside her “circle of mom friends”: decorators, summer people, empty nesters.
Wende’s first container sold out in months. She went back to Europe, and returned with more unique items.
Over the years, Bungalow added gifts, jewelry, books and cashmere. It morphed into a “lifestyle store.” Wende expanded, and with the help of landlord David Waldman renovated her place.
Her merchandise is a mixture of old and new, with prices from $8 to $8,000. She works hard finding special pieces. She celebrates local artists, with pottery, photos and paintings.
And — as a small businesswoman — customer service is important.
Wende lets people take items home, and see how they fit or work.
In the store itself, she’s got a space in back where she’ll open a bottle of wine, or have an espresso. Le Penguin — a couple of doors away — sends over lunch on china.
She’s not immune to the winds of change sweeping retail — particularly the internet. So she’s making sure she does not sit still.
Recently, Bungalow renovated its space. It’s airier, more open. There are new high ceilings.
Sconset Square has been around for a while. So has Bungalow.
Both are success stories, in a Westport retail environment that needs some good news.
The Registrars of Voters office (Room 107, Town Hall) is open Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., for voter registration.
October 30 is the deadline for these registrations for the November 6 state election:
- Mail-in registration (postmarked by) new voters
- Online registrations (available at: https://voterregistration.ct.gov)
November 5 (9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Town Hall) is the deadline for in-person registration by residents who meet the following criteria:
Between October 30, and November 6, 2018:
- Achieved the age of 18
- Moved to Westport
- Achieved citizenship
- Are a member or family member of the armed services.
Questions? Call 203-341-1115 or click here.
NOTE: Voters whose normal polling place is Coleytown Middle School will vote this year at Coleytown Elementary School.