I Scream, You Scream…

The Mayans say the end of the world will come in 2012.

They might be 2 years too late.

Baskin Robbins has closed its Westport store.  It’s been here since just after the invention of ice cream, back in the Ordovician Period.

According to WestportNow.com, “the owner emptied the store of its contents during the day, offering ice cream to passersby and nearby retailers. The owner reportedly said he could not afford the increased rent demanded by the building owner.”

Because they too have melted away, neither Ben nor Jerry could be reached for comment.

52 responses to “I Scream, You Scream…

  1. It was there for over 35 years. Sad.

  2. Carvel on the Post Road near Greens Farms School was #1 in the 1950’s and 60’s – eventually eclipsed by 31 favors downtown location and its popularity as a post Fine Arts movie showing hang out!

  3. I’ve always been a Ben & Jerry’s man (and still pining the loss).
    Still I hate too see them go and Sundaes is no replacement for either (imho).

  4. The Dude Abides

    What is with these landlords???? I heard the Red Cross is moving to Bridgeport from the Norwalk-Westport line for the very same reason: high rent. I can’t believe they have new tenants waiting in the wings.

  5. Maybe another bank will rent the place.

  6. I remember the day it opened. It was the first time I’d ever had, or heard of, Rocky Road

  7. When I was 6 or 7 we lived in Trumbull and my father worked– and more importantly– fished in Westport. On Sunday nights in the fall we’d ride to Westport and I’d play on the cannons on Compo Beach while he fished off the end of the jetty.

    When it got dark we’d go for ice cream. First choice was the Baskin Robbins, and the second choice was the Friendly’in the plaza with Sam Goody…

    I don’t think I’ve been to that Baskin Robins since 1983, but it was always nice to see it.

  8. And the commercial real estate owners/landlords drive their Bentley convertibles. It stuns me that in this retail environment, this downtrodden economy, landlords would even think to raise rents on good tenants. Who do they think is going to replace these retailers? Look around town, everywhere, vacant storefronts, formerly busy retailers standing in their doorways with glassy-eyed looks of forlorn. And yet Westport’s least finest continue their quest for greater and greater incomes.

    Amazing yet terrifying.

  9. Remember that landlords are taxpayers too. Maybe they can’t afford to keep their buildings going without increasing the rent. Are there any landlords out there who can share their side of the story?

    • I’ve been a landlord in a tough economy and I would always take most of the rent then no rent every time. Perhaps I just needed a more ‘creative’ accountant to make the no rent scenario work out to my advantage, but I just took a common sense approach and got through it.

  10. When I was about nine, I had a coupon for a free cone, and when my father took me to cash it in, the scooper guy jokingly asked me if it was a fake that I had made on my own printing press. Accusing me of counterfeiting? I was traumatized. Note: this was about 35 years ago and I still cling to the memory. Yeesh.

  11. Dear justfine,

    I’m not sure who you know in the real estate business, nor do I know who all these landlords you refer to as driving around in Bentleys are, but perhaps I can shed some light.

    My family has been in the real estate business in Westport since 1982. I have worked with my father at our company for 19 years. My dad has never owned a convertible Bentley, not that what anyone drives, or how anyone spends their hard earned money is anyone else’s business. Which is one of my questions to you: Do you have a problem with people making their own money? Enjoying the money they make? Let’s say we all drove convertible Bentley’s, which we don’t, but let’s say we do. How can that be any of your business and where is the animosity coming from? I work hard, but in this economy barely make it by. But I do work hard, as I have since I got my first job at 13. If you work hard and you want to buy something, why is that so offensive to you personally?

    In any event, to enlighten you about real estate costs, the Town of Westport just raised the sewer taxes by 75%. The real estate property taxes are astonishingly high and rise every year. The insurance rates also rise every year, as, especially in this economy, people seem to find themselves slipping and falling more often these days. The utility costs are skyrocketing as well.

    Almost all of our tenants have asked for rent reductions. We have complied with each and every request and have done everything possible to work with them. We give our tenants whatever they need to make it work for them and help them, even though it is to our financial detriment in this market. We lower the rents to help them, even though the taxes and insurance rates are skyrocketing and we have tenants moving out without notice. We let them pay late, or miss a month and make up for it later. We have one tenant who has not paid rent since May, but we trust them to catch up when they get more hours at work. This is what landlords are doing these days.

    Landlords are making concessions at every turn. You may want to consider the vacancies are because people are not starting new businesses in this weak and unpredictable economic environment. Or is it easier to just point your finger and blame? In the case of Baskin Robbins, it seems the tenant moved out on the landlord in the middle of the day. Do you know if they gave the landlord the legal notice they are required to? Do you know exactly by how much the rent was being raised? Do you know what the terms and conditions of the lease are? Do you know the tenant personally, and therefore can attest to his/her character? What do you know of this tenant/landlord relationship?

    Lastly, as to your comment of “Westport’s least finest”, would you like to consider where you would be without landlords? You wouldn’t have many of the grocery stores, gas stations, restaurants, drug stores, or many commercial buildings. Landlords maintain buildings, work with tenants, and also have to meet with the myriad and often costly and unreasonable demands of the Town of Westport. We are on call 24/7. We aren’t ogres sitting in our convertible Bentleys raising rents and laughing all the way to the bank. Speaking for my family, we are working hard to keep the lights on at our business, and even though the economy is in the tank, we still give to charities and do whatever we can to help others.

    As with any scenario, there are the good people and the bad people. There very well may be some really greedy and dreadful landlords in this town, but I don’t know them. I can’t list an onslaught of ogres driving around in Bentley convertibles and doing everything possible to make it impossible for tenants to survive. The landlords I work with are really people who are good to their tenants, improve the spaces for them, give them the concessions they need, and work with them. I’ve been doing this for 19 years, and have lived in this town since 1971. So, those are my credentials on speaking about this subject.

    I would love to know who these people are you refer to and how they are doing so well in this tanking economy. Please let me know all the landlords you’ve spoken to, to arrive at your conclusion.

    Enjoy your day.

    • Wow, Judi — this one of the most well-reasoned, insightful and thought-provoking replies to an “06880” comment ever! THANKS for posting.

  12. You are welcome! :)) Thank you for “06880”!!!

    • Judi,
      I agree with everything you said and you said it very well.

      However, I think JustFine was referring to the minority of landlords who have raised rents in a down market and driven some tenants out in search of less expensive locations or worse out of business only to have vacant properties for months and even years.

      Whether those landlords had to raise rents to recoup their additional expenses for taxes, utilities, etc, we don’t know. But as everything goes up the cost must be passed on somewhere or to someone.

      As I see all these empty store fronts and read of business owners consolidating their businesses and downsizing from multi-locations to just one or having to close their doors permanently, I wonder if people question the cause (and affect) and see how this administration has driven business and the economy to the brink.

      Now I know the Obama apologist will say, ‘well it would have been much worse if we didn’t spend a trillion tax payer dollars to shore it up’. Even though there is no proof of that and actually the CBO and many top economist said it may make things worse. Even Paul Krugman said that in yesterday’s NYT. Also many top economists along with the CATO Institute took out full page ads in papers back then, including the NYT, to say just that.

      But I digress, what I wonder is, do people (I know I do) actually have an opinion or speculate to as why this has happened? And see the affects of this administration’s economic policies. 3 out of 4 of Obama’s top economic advisors have recently left. It wasn’t because they completed their assignment successfully. They bailed when their policies failed and it is as much of an admission as you are going to get.

      An economic policy, like anything else, has consequences. When you give someone a home loan and they only have to pay interest on a variable rate with no money down…well then don’t be surprised when they cannot pay.

      Just an example and one of the reasons we are in this mess. And please don’t tell me it’s because George Bush got us into an ‘illegal’ war and that’s what happened to our economy, because that is a myth, not to say it didn’t have an effect, but not nearly what some may try to portray.

      I’m sure I’m going to take a beating for this one, but I’ll stop here for now. Let the flogging begin!

      • The Dude Abides

        Mr. Raho: The bubble burst. Four bubbles in my lifetime: Post-inflation Vietnam, Oil bust and subsequent bank bust of the 80’s, the dot.com bust of the late 90’s and now the housing bubble done burst. You can make it political if you want, you can make it culturiological, you can make it what ever you want. You can blame people, parties, administrations, landlords, tenants or whomever but it seems to be part and parcel of our capitalistic society. I am looking forward. As noted above, we had it very very good for a very very long time. Time to stop the whining, chin up and move on to better times. Hopefully soon.

        • Can’t move on until we admit or understand at least how we got here. Then we’ll know what has to be done to remedy the situation.
          More of the same old same old isn’t helping matters and may very well be making them worse.

          It’s not whining; it’s called waking the electorate from its complacency and perhaps putting too much trust in our leaders and expecting them to do right for the people. Instead they are only looking out for special interest and their own self interest.

          In no time in our history should we the people be told to, “…stop the whining, chin up and move on…”.

          I am very pleased the sleeping giant has awoken and are speaking their minds and making the changes necessary to carry this great country forward.

          • The Dude Abides

            You honestly think you have awakened the sleeping giant of dissent? You will be lucky to get 33% of the voters out in a controversial upcoming election. The only dialogue that is happening is the bobbleheads from the media arguing back and forth. My version?
            “W” went chasing after Bin Laden, invaded two soverign countries, spent 3 trillion bucks and meanwhile, the fat cats on Wall Street were left alone to play their games. Then the Black Dude is given the job of cleaning it up. Do you actually expect him to do so in 19 months? Perhaps I am callous because all I hear from you is what is wrong with this country. Forever negative and a pawn of the Glen Becks who satisfy their ratings by stirring up the pot. This economy will survive, as it has through every downward cycle that I have mentioned. But you analyzing it and correlating landlord-tenant issues with criticism of the current administration is getting very old. Very old indeed. And I do believe it was FDR who directed the American public to “chin up, back straight and move forward.” (Radio address, October, ’34)

  13. The Dude Abides

    From my understanding, admittedly based on hearsay, is that the Red Cross simply found a cheaper facility in Bridgeport and decided to move. However, I have also been told that landlords are still playing “hard ball” with various restaurants who are struggling e.g the failed operation across from the YMCA side entrance. Ironically, many of the new eating facilities are doing quite well despite the economy and the failure of the former tenants. This is based on discussions with a local beverage distributor. As a landlord of many commerical properties in Vermont, I am not unsympathetic to the woes of any landlord and thank you to “Judi” for her compassionate entry dispelling the myth that we are all the “Donald.” But it should be mentioned that we have had a pretty good run for 15 years or so when tenants would pay nearly anything to rent. Those without aforesight are now, most likely, regretting the amount of retained earnings of the past.

    • Turnover among retail tenants in Westport happens in good times and in bad. I don’t see why anyone would find it remarkable. What is remarkable is the utter lack of understanding on the part of some of how a market for rental space operates. Some seem to believe that landlords want vacant space and operate to maximize it. Maybe Baskin Robbins was a victim of changing tastes driven by the Angry Mom’s. Who knows?

  14. I applaud The Red Cross for finding a cheaper facility and moving to Bridgeport. I’m not 100% how it works, but it’s great especially if that means more of the donations go towards the cause, and not rent! There is no doubt the rent there is FAR cheaper than Westport/Norwalk line! Good for them for taking the initiative. If I had The Red Cross as a tenant, I’d work VERY hard to keep them! Quite frankly, I’d work hard to keep any tenant. The less vanancy signs you see driving around, the better the market 😉

    These are hard and difficult times, but they are also good times to show resolve.

    I appreciate the opporunity to express myself! I hope Vermont has a good market for you and the local government and residents treat you and the landlords respectfully!

  15. So, as for the greedy landlord myth, here is former store owner’s own words about how his landlord tried to help him (as quoted on WestportNow):

    Mustafa, who closed the store at 180 Post Road East on Monday, said the landlord, Marc Nevas, has been very kind and discounted his rent for a year but told him that they “could no longer be in business together.”

  16. Thank you, Jeremy! I looked up the article and thought I’d post it. Facts are fun!

  17. My pleasure, Judi. I thought it was an important point to make, when everyone was slagging the landlord that he tried to help the business owner for a year but that ultimately the business owner was done in by market conditions influenced by changing eating patterns. Linking to the whole article, frankly, makes the point better than I did.

  18. John Raho, we are cut from the same cloth!! I agree with what you said, especially about this administration.
    Back to the subject at hand, I was happy to read the article that shone light on what a wonderful person the owner of Baskin Robbins was. This was a case of a great landlord and a great tenant, who just couldn’t make it work. It happens. We were able to get the facts of this story and there is no “bad man” in this situation … just a state of what’s going on. To read a story and then jump to any conclusion is not fair to either party, which I why I asked the questions. Do you know what happened? Well, we found out what happened and it wasn’t a delinquent tenant leaving without notice. It wasn’t an evil landlord. The tenant showed great class and respect with this interview!
    There are great landlords and there are slumlords and all types in between! There are great tenants and deadbeat tenants. I can only speak of my experiences and what I know. I guess I’m fortunate to know many great landlords in this community, like the Nevas family! As for tenants, I’ve known all types … fortunately and unfortunately!

    As to what happened to start all this? That could be a great debate! I’m not sure Dan likes it when we go off the subject … let me see how this pans out and I’ll chime in! I do agree with you, John, so you won’t take a beating from me!!

  19. Why does John ‘aho turn everything into a political rant?

    • Upcuck,

      When talking about the current economic conditions, how could it be done without mentioning the trillion dollar bailout that was forced on taxpayers that was suppose to save us? As things only get worse.
      Do you really believe the two are not related? That was my whole premise.

      And if you are going to be a disrespectful by calling me the name that you did, at least be man enough to say it to my face and not hide behind a pseudo name. Of course I know not to expect that to ever happen.

  20. Mr. Raho’s comments led me to read Paul Krugman’s 9/26 column. I combed the column several times and cannot find anything in it to support the statement that, “the Obama apologist will say, ‘well it would have been much worse if we didn’t spend a trillion tax payer dollars to shore it up’. Even though there is no proof of that and actually the CBO and many top economist said it may make things worse. Even Paul Krugman said that in yesterday’s NYT.”

    Instead, Krugman’s piece debunks the concept of structural unemployment — that the reason unemployment is to high is that workers lack skills appropriate to the jobs on offer: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/27/opinion/27krugman.html?ref=paulkrugman

    Most regular readers of Krugman will recognize has said, repeatedly and forcefully, that the reason the “bailouts” were less successful than everyone hoped is that they didn’t go far enough.

    • In Krugman’s September 25th NYT blog entry ‘Default Is In our Stars’
      Krugman says, ‘ In the end, I’d argue, what must happen is an effective default on a significant part of debt, one way or another.’

      I’m busy now, but I’ll get back to Upchuck later.

  21. @ Mr. Raho. I checked out the blog (thank you) and still have a hard time reading Mr. Krugman as saying it was wrong for the government to step in. He’s talking about how bad things still are: “The main force behind the gratifying decline in consumer debt appears to be default rather than thrift.”

    In fact, he comes out frankly against the do-nothing approach: “A naive view says that what we need is a return to virtue: everyone needs to save more, pay down debt, and restore healthy balance sheets.”

    • What???
      I was interpreting Mr. Krugman’s commentary to allow defaults and bankruptcies to happen as a way of correcting the economy since the trillion dollar stimulus hasn’t done what was intended. I inferred this was a corrective action in the absence of the stimulus working.

      Perhaps my interpretation is incorrect, in which case I withdraw using him to make my argument. However, I stand by everything else and welcome debate.

  22. The Dude Abides said,
    “Perhaps I am callous because all I hear from you is what is wrong with this country. Forever negative and a pawn of the Glen Becks who satisfy their ratings by stirring up the pot. This economy will survive, as it has through every downward cycle that I have mentioned. But you analyzing it and correlating landlord-tenant issues with criticism of the current administration is getting very old. Very old indeed. ”

    First of all, I have never said there is anything wrong with this country or anything close. I have stated what is wrong with this administration and why they are failing. And the vast majority of the country feels as I do, even many Obama supporters and the majority of Independents have had a change of heart. All polling proves this by a huge margin and the proof will be on November 2nd. Obama may not be on the ballot per se…oh, but he is!
    No opinion, just fact!

    It’s not negative to be critical of government that is supposed to be ‘by the people for the people’. I remember when G.W. was in, the left’s mantra then was, ‘Dissent is Patriotic”, how soon we forget!

    I like Glenn Beck, he is a thinker and a man of history. Unfortunately his program is on a little too early for me to watch regularly. When I have, I find him engaging and hard to argue with. His research team is incredibly thorough and he is a Constitutionalist. That is hard for anyone to be against (at least a God fearing red blood American patriot).

    I ask, how many times have you watched him? I challenge you to watch him for one week and tell me where he is wrong. And I don’t mean an edited version from The Daily Show (which is very funny).

    My whole premise is – How can anyone not see the correlation between businesses going out of business and/or not expanding due to the current economic conditions this administration has created using a trillion dollars of our money? This in return affects Main Street right here. And we’re lucky, we haven’t been hit nearly as hard as most communities across the country. It’s that simple.

    Dude, you and some of your friend here may not get it (or pretend not to get it, while trying to discredit and marginalize me), but the rest of the country gets it (and that is what really matters), and they know what must happen to turn things around. Hint: It ain’t Hope and Change (or as I like to call it – Hoaxes and Chains).

    If you read The Wall Street Journal, then you would know, more and more CEOs, Wall Streeters and top business and small business leaders feel this administration is anti-business. Which dictates how they spend, hire and outsource, which then has a direct affect right here. So while you may accuse me of ranting, I’m merely connecting the dots and wondering what others may think is the cause of this great recession and why we are having such difficulty getting out of it while more businesses going under.

    It’s okay to ask why? Just because you may not like the answer doesn’t mean I shouldn’t ask the question out loud. Truth is always kind, but they say it will set you free.

  23. The last line should have read – Truth isn’t always kind…

  24. My response in an unofficial capacity: the Red Cross owns buildings in Bridgeport, Darien, New Canaan and rents in Stamford. As a Disaster volunteer, we are your neighbors who are available when you are in need, no matter what time of the night we get a call.

    • The Dude Abides

      Ms. West: Thank you for your service. The mention of the Red Cross
      “evacuation” from the Westport-Norwalk line was in no way intended to belittle their excellent work.

  25. The Dude Abides

    Mr Raho: I am trying to grasp your sincerity but my inward feelings tell me that it is still a Red Sox-Yankee skirmish to you. A game you want to win. As we discussed with Jeffxs’ tutuorial under the “Joan Schine’s Legacy,” there are doubts as to the success of the Obama Stimulus. I grant you that. There also seems to be a consensus among economists that to do nothing in January of 2009 was wrong. Some argue that more money was needed. There is no question that a debate remains on your premise on why 787 billion hasn’t affected America’s Main Street. I believe the problem is cyclical in nature as I noted above and we will recover. You seem to want this recovery immediately and will seek your revenge at the election booth in November. This is certainly your right and with the unrest/anger among the electorate, the GOP may just recoup the House and possibly the Senate. I don’t see a whole bunch of difference in the spending habits of either party and sure don’t see the Tea Party candidates in Delaware and New York as anything more than a joke. However, I remain optimistic. Perhaps because I served this country in Vietnam and the Treasury Department, I have a different perspective about what it means to be an American. I welcome debate, dissent and protest but not as a game to claim a winner but instead, to produce a better country for all of us. I am not sure we share that sense of patriotism.

    • Dude: According to the NBER, the recession ended before one dollar of Obama’s “stimulus” was spent. It is tough to argue that the cause followed the effect. It looks more and more like an $800 billion waste of taxpayer dollars.

      • The Dude Abides

        Jeffxs: According to NMOOW (19 million out of work), the
        recession is still going on. When the going gets “tough,” the
        “tough” get going. Actually 787 billion.

        • The Dude Abides

          Jeffxs: P.S. The “800 billion” figure is also our annual military budget of which much is used to fight an enemy that doesn’t own an airplane although is seemingly a formidable foe.

          • Gee, Obama and the NBER told me we were out of the recession. Should I not trust them on this matter? The military budget and the wars now belong to Obama. In any event, it would not be surprising if there were an increase in vacancies in Westport over the next few months.

  26. I am sincere and politics is a blood sport.

    Lets just say, we agree to disagree (at least for today);)

  27. The Dude Abides


  28. My brother and I both worked at Baskin Robbins throughout high school (early – late 70s). Joe and Rosemary, the owners then, were WONDERFUL people to work for. The perk was being able to take home the equivalent of a two-scoop sundae after every shift. On weekends, you would ready yourself for the mass of people in the shop when the movies let out. (back when there were movie theaters downtown too) I had the pleasure of waiting on Paul Newman several times (mint chocolate chip) and many fun times working with Allison Doyle. I’m sure Westport will miss Baskin-Robbins.

  29. oh the memories, the memories . . . all punctuated with a pink spoon and hot fudge.

  30. Ahhh, no more Pink Bubble Gum, Rocky Road, Daiquiri Ice….

    Who’s next to close? Gawd, I hope it’s not Mario’s.

    Westport will never be the same again.

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