Sarah Kennedy: A Westport Gem

Some Westport merchants sell gems.

Some Westport merchants are gems.

Sarah Kennedy is that rarity:  A gem-seller who also is one.

Sarah Kennedy wears one of her own handblown pieces.

Sarah Kennedy wears one of her own handblown pieces.

For 39 years she owned The Cellar Workshop.  Her hand-designed and self-manufactured jewelry drew a devoted clientele.

But, Sarah laments, “it was the best-kept secret in town.”

The location — on the corner of Church Lane and Myrtle Avenue, across from Christ & Holy Trinity Church — was less than ideal.  “People just whipped by,” Sarah says.  “If they stopped to look, there was an accident.”

A year ago, Sarah relocated to Saugatuck.  Her new spot on Railroad Place — directly across from the train station — is bright and welcoming.  It’s the perfect location to show off her unique, eclectic collection of rings, bracelets, pendants and pins.

“It’s terrific,” Sarah says.  “It’s wonderful.  I’ve kept all my old customers, and added so many more who never knew I existed.  It’s like a new business.”

Every night, restaurants like Mario’s and Tarantino draw window shoppers to her showcases.  Every morning, Sarah says, she wipes off the glass because people have pressed their noses against the pane.

I was one of the many Westporters who never knew about Sarah.  (I’m ashamed to admit it — after all, she’s a 1960 graduate of Staples; her father once owned Compo Acres Pharmacy, and her mother died a year ago at 98.)

The woman who told me about Sarah raved about her work — she called it “exquisite, beautiful, a museum of fine jewels.”

She also described Sarah’s generosity — how she polishes jewelry and rings without charging.  As if on cue, in the middle of our conversation the local FedEx guy walked in.  His necklace had broken.  Sarah offered to solder it while he made other deliveries.

“What’s the big deal?” she said as he left, smiling.  “It’s such a simple thing.  I can’t nickel-and-dime people.”

Of her 4 decades in Westport, Sarah says:  “I’ve been very fortunate.  My career has been a gift.  I’m very grateful to be able to do this.”

(Cellar Workshop is located at 44 Railroad Place, Westport.  Phone:  203-227-3329.)

3 responses to “Sarah Kennedy: A Westport Gem

  1. Thanks for the great article, Dan. Sarah Kennedy herself is one of Westport’s “hidden treasures,” and I enjoyed learning about her Westport roots. We do live in a very special town with many special people.

  2. Wendy Crowther

    On the rare occasion that I’m shopping for jewelry or needing a piece repaired, I have always gone to Sarah. She’s always been incredibly helpful and knowledgeable. Doing business with Sarah has that warm, hometown feel to it – so pleasurable in the age of e-commerce and chain store retail. A few months ago I walked past her old location and was heartbroken when I saw that her place was empty. I thought she’d become the next casualty of the recession. When telling another devoted patron about my discovery, I was so glad to hear that she had simply moved her digs down to the train station area. Congrats on a great move, Sarah! I’ll be back soon enough with the next bracelet that needs a new clasp. Good luck at your new location.

  3. Linda Gramatky Smith

    This was such a wonderful article, Dan. I knew Sarah in high school and, yes, she’s a lovely and talented lady. I too whipped by the location on Myrtle and Church, always meaning to stop in. Now I’ll make a trip to see her shop in Saugatuck!

    AND I have good news for her and other members of our class of Staples `60: we’ve selected the date for our 50th reunion, September 25, 2010, thirteen months away. Look forward to seeing Sarah there.