“06880” reader Wendy Pieper was in Saugatuck the other day. She did not like what she saw.
We stopped at the light at Peter’s Corner in Saugatuck. (I call it that because Peter’s Market sat at this location for what seemed like forever.)
I’m not sure I would have seen the atrocity if we weren’t stopped for that brief moment, but I glanced up and saw the familiar logo that graces every mile (or less) up and down the Post Road: Dunkin’ Donuts.
I couldn’t believe it. My heart stopped — it literally missed a beat. I was overcome by that feeling you get when you learn someone has died. There were no words; just open-mouth gasping.
I can’t believe Dunkin’ Donuts is in Saugatuck.
My husband and I rented a cottage on Riverside Avenue when we were first married. A quick walk to the train, Viva’s, Peter’s Bridge, Mansion Clam House, the Duck, Desi’s corner, the post office, Depot Liquor, DeRosa’s, etc. What more could you need?
Not a Dunkin’ Donuts, that’s for sure!
There was a charming quality to the Saugatuck area — and there still is, hidden there waiting to blossom again. There is a heart and soul, a feeling of community. It’s something different than downtown, sorta fishy, sorta quirky, definitely a real feel of the river. The last bits of old Westport are there.
We’ve given up so much of this town. Do we have to sacrifice the last parts? Do we really need another faceless, nameless shop? When you’re in a Dunkin’ Donuts you could be in a mall, a truck stop, an airport — a place of nothing, devoid of locale. Heartless.
I can’t tell you how many sandwiches, coffees and egg sandwiches I’ve grabbed from Peter’s. I took them to the beach, or escaped on a boat.
This little enclave was a place to restock and revive. You’d see everyone there from town on their way to enjoy the beach or Longshore, or off to New York.
The parking lot was always crowded. All the proprietors knew your face. The deli people welcomed you. There was a community. You knew you were in Westport.
I spent a zillion hours at Juba’s (the old coffee spot in Peter’s) when my second daughter was born, trading stories and receiving encouragement from other moms. I assure you you will not find this at Dunkin’ Donuts.
I can’t believe the town approved this. McDonald’s and Arby’s received more scrutiny than this! Did someone get paid off? There was no prior notice, just another operation done under the cover of night — very cloak and dagger.
How is Doc’s going to survive? Don’t we want to see the success of the local businessman?
We deserve more in this town. For such an educated and eclectic group, we are sadly pacified with what is easy and common. Where is our spirit, our individuality? How could we have let this happen to another place? How can we give up Saugatuck to more of the same?
How could the owners of this property ignore the history and charm or Saugatuck? How could they be so short-sighted?
I am so saddened by this, as I’m sure many others are.
That was Wednesday. Wendy had a night to think about Dunkin’ Donuts’ coming to Saugatuck.
Yesterday morning, she was still upset. She wrote again:
I’m just so sad. Once a Dunkin’ Donuts or the like go in to a place, they never leave. You see abandoned stores everywhere, but somehow they manage to stay there with their stale coffee smell, chewy old bagels and napkins scattered on the sidewalk.
It might be time to think of moving. I can’t believe I grew up here, spent every summer on this shore, chose to build my life here with my family, and slowly I watch the decay of town. I just don’t understand. I wish there was something to do. Is it greed?
I find myself in Fairfield more these days, because somehow they have managed to find a balance between the chains and the locals. I’m afraid Westport will soon look and feel like Westchester County. Maybe that’s what everyone wants, and I’m not the norm — my husband points that out to me often.
Am I living in a fantasy world? Too Pollyanna? I point out so many spots to my daughters, and preceding most comments is “There used to be this great place…”
Fill in the blank: Ship’s, Soup’s On, the movie theater. Even the strategic placement of Friendly’s in Playhouse Square was good — you could always find someone there after a movie.
Sorry to lament so early in the morning. Any solution? Is it too far gone?
This Dunkin’ Donuts seems to have put me over the edge. I know I will get over it, move on and and find something wonderful again in town that I love and that keeps me here.
But in the meantime I shall say a prayer that others may feel the same — that we may all try to hold on to our beautiful town, and all that makes it unique and special.