Dissin’ Dunkin’

“06880” reader Wendy Pieper was in Saugatuck the other day.  She did not like what she saw.

Her reaction:

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.

The old Mansion Clam House has a new neighbor.

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.

Will funky Doc's survive now that DD's has moved in?

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.

143 responses to “Dissin’ Dunkin’

  1. “Atrocity?” I think that’s a bit over the top. While Wendy clearly did her best to patronize all those shops she listed, others didn’t, and they closed. It’s not like the P&Z can take out a map and say “We’ll put a cute yarn shop here, and a cute bakery there, and a funky independent bookstore there.”

  2. Richard Lawrence Stein

    It is sad when time passes and what we knew has changed or is gone. Unfortunately that is life as we know it. Yes we can support our local merchants and try to be there for them, but this is a time for Doc’s to buckle down and play ball. Personally I went there once and would not go back again. I found the the staff slow and aggravating with a whole lot of attitude. That with standing, you are correct, but with “D&D” coming its not the end of the world. The space was empty for a long time, Peter’s couldn’t make it any longer. That sadly, is what life is, a journey with highs and lows… and and changing scenery.

    • Richard Lawrence Stein

      P.S. Wendy I have lived here in our lovely berg for close to FORTY years I remember many a place and enjoy a good game of “DO YOU REMEMBER” so I do sympathize with you.

  3. I miss a lot of things. I miss that my kids don’t live with me any more – they grew up. I miss my college roommate and best friend. She died of breast cancer years ago. Yes, there was once a lovely view of farmland on Whitney Street where I waited with my first-grader for the bus to Long Lots. There are three big houses there now, and the kids who have moved into them now wait at that same bus stop, which a little more crowded and lively with the unfamiliar faces of young parents getting to know their neighbors. I love my memories. And I envy those who talk about the old Westport with their memories of Chubby’s and Allen’s Clam House and the quirky hot pink book store on Main Street. It must have been a great place to grow up. But life goes on – that’s the beauty and the tragedy of it. All I can do about that today, is resolve to go out of my way to get coffee at Doc’s from now on, maybe every even day. Not only to support one of our remaining holdout local merchants. But also because the coffee there is already the best in town.

    • At least you can empathize with her, Jessica. That’s very admirable. All I can do is laugh when she laments that someone must have been “paid off.” Who? The landlord that’s been paying property taxes, despite having an empty storefront.

    • “But life goes on – that’s the beauty and tragedy of it.” Deep. See article on marijuana.

  4. John McCarthy

    Wendy,
    I couldn’t agree more. And many of the decisions coming out of P&Z and Town Hall these days might easily lead one to ask “Was someone paid off?” but I haven’t seen any concrete evidence of such behavior. I think it has more to do with arrogance and ego and an activist agenda. There are a few key people looking to “leave their mark” on Westport by building monuments to their greatness. Watch out if you disagree with what they want to do or how they go about erecting their legacy.

    In your tour of our youth in a Westport that has disappeared, you didn’t mention the Fine Arts Theater. When it closed on the Post Road, that was the final nail in the coffin of Downtown Westport. Ironic that the person who was responsible for that action is responsible for bringing Downtown Westport back to life. Ironic, sad and tragic.

    John

    • Aren’t you a public official? And isn’t Town Hall where you make decisions? And might others ask if you include yourself among those who could have been paid off, even if they haven’t seen any concrete evidence of such behavior?

  5. Wendy D – it’s so spot on! You took the words out of our mouths, only you said it more beautifully! Thank you, thank you!

    Yeah it’s a shame. Martha moved out of Westport years ago because the town was beginning to lose its quaintness.

    • You are misrepresenting history. Martha could not get the neighbors and the P&Z to bend to her wishes. No loss.

    • Richard Lawrence Stein

      Martha was a nasty unfriendly woman with a mean streak… Great Westport representative…. I think the late great Mr. Newman just shook his head in heaven.

    • Martha and quaintness in the same sentence? A brash bitch is
      more appropriate. Wake up and smell the coffee, Idiot . . . oh
      sorry Ironic.

  6. Wendy…i could not agree with you more! stopping in at a DD makes me feel like i’m at a service area on a road trip…certainly, NOT at ‘home’! the mom and pop stores are what have made Westport special for so many years…the charm and grace with which a small business operates can be felt long after you’ve walked out the door. each and every time i have tried to patronize a DD, i am greeted by snarly people who would rather be ANYWHERE else but behind the counter…definitely not the sense of community felt when a proprietor of a mom and pop actually greets you by name! i could go on and on in this comment space but the bottom line is that my heart too will skip a beat when i am near the bridge and i see yet another reminder of what the town is slowly becoming…quite a shame!!!

    • Morgan Patrick

      Which store are you referring to? My experience has been quite different. I work at the dunkin across from the Fresh Market and as one of those people “behind the counter” I can tell you that we love to be there. True, I’m not related to the family that owns our store but I still know many customers by name. And we still make it feel like a restaurant. If people prefer mom-and-pop, then don’t go to Dunkin Donuts. But this notion that all dunkins are like a service area on a road trip just perpetuates the anti-unique / more-of-the-same these negative comments target.

      • westportersince1970

        Both Dunkin’ Donuts (Post Rd and Bridge Sq) are welcome additions to a town that is no longer willing or able to support mom’npop operations. Morgan typifies a friendly retail presence: he works hard at being good, and he deserves your patronage. Functioning and profitable franchises are preferable to empty storefronts. At least someone is taking in a minimum wage salary. And Peter’s Bridge has been empty (except for the estimable Liquor Store and name-changing mini-restaurant ) for too long.

        • westportersince1970

          by the way–
          Morgan has deferred attendance at the Ivy League school to which he has been accepted to try to earn enough money so he won’t incur outrageous loans. Boost your tip from one to five dollars when you’re feeling flush… Westport kids still DO work hard to get ahead.

  7. Much ado about nothing. The market will decide if it’s DD or Doc’s or both. Why all of the whining? Get a grip; time moves on and things change. Do you miss rotary phones?

  8. Wendy –

    Try some decaf.

  9. Sven Davidson

    Wendy’s lament is interesting. Guess she missed Thomas Wolfe. Is there any town in America that hasn’t changed?

    • Rowayton

      • Knows Rowayton

        As someone who lived in Rowayton in the ’80’s and ’90’s, I can tell you that it has completely changed, and not for the better. And that includes the buildings and the type of people who live there.

      • The Dude Abides

        Ever since Dorothy Hammill left. Rowayton sucks. Ridgefield ain’t bad though.

    • Southport

    • Woodstock, Vermont has a great old-fashioned feel to it and the town has absolutely no chain-stores and chain-restaurants. Actually, I’m not sure if the entire state of Vermont has any chain-restaurants such as mcdonalds or burger king.

  10. Docs coffee sucks and is over priced. They should be thankful a Starbucks didn’t move in across the street and put them out of their misery.

    Please don’t talk about the balance of “chains and locals” in the Saugatuck neighborhood – name another chain. That’s all Saugatuck is, and it’s great – but adding a little diversity (yes DD can be considered diversity when everything else is a “one off”) and a little life and prosperity on a corner that’s in desperate need of it (Wendy – Peter’s Bridge Market has been gone for a loooooooong time and it ‘aint coming back) is something to celebrate and not something to mourn.

    Commuters want good cheap, reliable coffee at 5:30 am – and Docs will soon be a pile of rubble once Gault starts their development across the street this summer – so I for one – as a local Saugatuckian – welcome to the neighborhood.

  11. David Loffredo

    Docs and its overpriced coffee will be a parking lot this summer when Gault moves across the street – I for one am thankful that DD moved into the “Peters Bridge” shopping center since watching it sit empty for the past two years was depressing.

  12. Just wondering…why can’t there be a committee connected to P & Z that can actively recruit the type of businesses we want and need in this town? How about a meeting of the minds with the landlords that have the space, and have a committee talk to them about what type of business would work best in a particular space, and then seek them out to fill those spaces, rather than wait and see who shows up to rent a space? That could be a win-win for the landlord to fill the space, and with a well thought out plan there would be a balance and some control of the type of businesses in our town. Westport needs it’s charm back.

  13. Ellen Cunningham Kelly

    Wendy,
    From 1971 until 1985 I called Westport “home”. My first job was at The Ships Lantern, second at The Finast Supermarket, third at This Inn at Longshore. I am still best friends with my across-the-street neighbor from 2nd grade at Bedford El. All but one of the places I just listed are gone. I haven’t lived in Westport for decades, and to go “home” now is impossible. That, my dear friend, is just life. Hold onto your memories, and hold onto your present even tighter. Change is not to be blamed on “greed” or maliciousness of anyone, it is just the nature of time, that tic-tocking beast. Keep telling your children your stories, your precious memories of moments spent at unique locales that existed as they will learn to cherish their moments too. It really is all ok…….

  14. Westport Expat

    Moving to Fairfield may not be the answer, as according to the DD website they have 6 locations in that town; Westport has 3 – including the Bridge Square outlet – per the DD website. (I no longer know Westport inside out, so I apologize if the Westport figure is inaccurate.)

    In the town where I live now, we don’t really have any local coffee shops, so the local coffee place *is* a Dunkin Donuts. The franchisee, a local resident, gives us our coffee for free every once in a while; and the people working the counter greet us and know our coffee orders. I don’t mean to advocate for the big, evil franchise, but when you come down to it the place is staffed by human beings who may turn out to be perfectly nice.

  15. Aw Wen,
    I am sorry the DD was the catalyst that sent you down this path. Like John, Bobby, Rob and all our other friends who we’ve known since Jr. High (another thing that no longer exists in this town) and still live in town- things just ain’t like they used to be.
    When I moved back to Westport 11 years ago I knew I couldn’t keep looking in the rear view mirror or I was always going to be dissatisfied. I learned that the people that knew me growing up are the people that know me best. You’re not too Pollyanna, we’re just grasping at threads to keep the fabric of the town as you know it from unraveling. It’s why you’re part of the Sketch Club and the Church downtown. It’s why I was devastated that the house next door was yesterdays Teardown of the Day and I lost neighbors that have known me since I was 5.
    You value history and a sense of community more than money. Others don’t, and we both know we need to accept that. Just because they can rent space at Peter’s doesn’t mean they should rent space in your head.
    Let’s go for a walk on the beach and talk about the old days. And anyone who went to “Jr. High” here is welcome to join us take our stroll down memory lane.
    Lib

  16. Wendy — thanks for your post to 06880. You’ve got the heart of the old Westport that’s being lost in more ways that just the physical landscape and quaint shops. There are those of us who like to hold on to what made Westport one of the most unique and special places to grow up, and hate to see it being swallowed up whatever the reasons. I grew up in the Saugatuck neighborhood on Bridge Street, and rode my bike across the silver bridge to Peter’s Bridge several times a week, explored along the river, stared at the Jockey Club men with fear and wonder, and those are memories worth holding onto and deserve a mention.

  17. Morgan Patrick

    I work in one of the Cain family’s Dunkin’ Donuts stores. We are always friendly and know almost all regular customers by name. And from what I’ve seen “behind the counter,” these stores offer a terrific sense of community. Sure, it may not be a mom and pop (although the family that owns these stores are nice and most of the employees quite the opposite of what someone described in an earlier comment), but our chairs and tables are more often occupied than not. I’ve seen people meet for the first time and talk for hours over Sausage-egg-and-cheeses. Who cares if it’s fast food? And the face of Dunkin’ Donuts is changing. Come in and try the service and the feel of the place. These stores are clean, fun, and different.

  18. “Libby MK” and “a reader” are on target, Wendy. I, too, grew up in Saugatuck — in the 50s and 60s and remember its wonders very well. It was a privilege to have lived there. But even then it was changing fast, and had been ever since much of it was bulldozed for I-95 in the late 50s. Frankly, despite its unique character, there were those in Westport back then who would have bulldozed all of it to the ground if they could have gotten away with it. When our house was for sale in ’60, a husband and wife evidenced some interest. He liked the neighborhood — and would go on to head the news divisions at a couple of networks while sending their kids through the Westport schools. His wife, finally, did not like it. “This house is too close to Saugatuck,” she declared. They were shown the door. “We’ll never leave Saugatuck,” my mother then declared, and my parents never did. Wendy, if you haven’t yet checked out Exit 17 on Facebook, please do. It’s a cornucopia of memories and photos of a time now gone. In the meantime, however, for better or worse, time moves on.

    • I feel that Wendy is SPOT ON. However, if I disagreed, I would find myself being a bit more eloquent in my rebuttal than some readers have been…Wendy put herself out there and for that I feel she deserves a great deal of respect!!! I know that there are a lot of people in town who adamantly agree with her opinions! Westport is changing, and while change is said to be inevitable, we can still hope that corporate America doesn’t chase out every little “mom and pop” in town. At least we can cling to this for now: Dunkin’ Donuts is not the worst fast food chain that could have gone into the old Peter’s–it could have been a McDonalds!

      • Nonsense. If you don’t like Mickey D’s or any other store don’t patronize it. If enough people feel that way, the store will not survive. However, judging from what I see, Mickey D’s is not going to fade away any time soon. I was in Paris when the first Mickey D’s opened. The press went nuts decrying the assault on cusine; the store was mobbed. The last time I checked, that store was no longer the only Mickey D’s in France.

    • The Dude Abides

      An Exit on the Turnpike has a FACEBOOK space?
      Oh my goodness,next it will be starting revolutions.

      • Hah! No, it’s a memory page for Westporters (particularly those who live or lived in Saugatuck). There’s an Exit 18 page too on Facebook — again, for memories, not the exit itself!

  19. Wendy there are still many family and locally owned business we should be supporting. Calise’s is a wonderful place to say hello to all, pick up paper get a cup of coffee and talk to people that have grown up here in Westport. In fact their parents grew up in Westport. Calise was closed down for almost
    a week, getting a face lift. Carmine is the best. Food is Good and it is easy to
    park at. You can also visit Double L Farms to get locally grown veggies and eggs that are produced by chickens that can walk. There are still many Family run businesses that need our support.

  20. Don’t forget the Red Barn, JAM, owned and operated by the Nistico family, Saugatuck’s own.

  21. I have to chime in. Firstly, I was a “no no no” to change in Westport gal. But, I came to the realization that I’ll never shop at The Selective Eye on Main Street, unless I win powerball and have the money to spend on opening a fabulous boutique on Main Street myself. The post office, DeRosas, etc., are all gone. Quite frankly, I did not go out to eat at DeRosa’s all the time, so can’t really be sad about it, it would make me hypocritical. I do have some great memories there, though! The Westport I knew (born and bred in 1971 for those who do not know me) is gone and not coming back. So, now, I take on a new approach, which is focusing on the positive. The real estate market has been so dismal, now we are hearing of businesses opening in Wesptort, there are deals being made, people are investing in our little town. That to me is a sign of recovery and jobs being created.

    Do you know how many towns would love to have the luxury to complain about which businesses are opening? Westport had more vacancies than I can remember, they are being filled – this is good news. We need the money! Just last year they took the flags off the bridge, because Westport didn’t have $2,500 to spend to maintain them. A private investor had to pay for us to fly our country’s flag. We need businesses!

    I happen to love the Dunkin’ Donuts across from Shaws. They always have fresh decaf, which is hard to find, especially in the afternoon, and in my “delicate condition” I have to stick to decaf. They have great hot chocolate, it’s very clean, and the staff really is friendly.

    I can understand Wendy’s points of view and certainly respect them. But, I had to let go of all my “bring back Westport” energy, because it was a waste. Now I’m focusing on a newer Westport, which I’m excited about.

    I am thankful someone is investing their dollars in Westport, and bringing life and jobs to an area where I’ve seen tumbleweeds blowing across the street. The Gault family is a wonderful family and they are bringing life back to Saugatuck. Old Westport is old Westport. I love to play “remember when” too, but that’s all it is. So, I’ve chosen to embrace the change. I may not like it all, I may disagree with things like putting parking meters up at Parker Harding Plaza, but I can’t complain when much of the country is suffering from high vacancy rates and we are actually filling up our vacancies.

    Have a great day 06880’ers!! Thank you, as always, Dan for giving us a platform to exchange our thoughts! 😀 Cheers!

    • John McCarthy

      Hello Anonymous,
      No need for you write, “for those who do not know me” Everyone knows you, the most prolific blog commenter around.

      • The Dude Abides

        That’s Judi, John and not the other anonymous who is equally prolific in number of entries but not word number.

  22. The Dude Abides

    Wendy, Wendy . . at least they didn’t put in a Wendy’s. The landlords of this town played roulette during the good times and leveraged themselves up the yingyang. Now they have to charge high rents to meet their balance sheets. But Corporate America took over Main Street decades ago. Are you surprised they are now taking over Saugatuck? Time to take a serious look at where you shop and where you bank. “Mom and Pop” are gasping for air.

    • Who works in those Corporate America stores on Main Street? Martians? Why don’t all of those who lament the disappearance of “mom and pop” establishments put their money where their mouths are. Open a mom and pop shop; see what it takes to survive.

      • The Dude Abides

        I do put my money where my mouth is. I shop local. The point is the profits from the Corporate America stores go to headquarters elsewhere and invested elsewhere. The “Martians” (your term) do not make enough to impact the local economy let alone allow them to live here in most cases.

        • If mom and pop owned the store, would the employees make enough money to live in Westport? I don’t think that is the proper standard. Not every job justifies wages high enough to sustain an employee in Westport. The point is the Corporate stores are here and mom and pop are a diminishing factor driving the local economy. We can all speculate on why, but the fact is that the market has not sustained the smaller enterprises for the most part. On the other hand, we can all make a list of the “local” enterprises that have survived. They must be doing something right.

          • The Dude Abides

            Mitchell’s is a good example of a Mom and Pop store growing and growing and keeping an extended family, including long term employees, prosperous. And, of course, their secret is selling to New Yorkers and not Westporters. But they have made a huge impact on the local economy through charitable contributions as well as being nice folks.

  23. Wendy, well said. I get it. As a small business owner, and one who has lived in town a few years, it’s said in a lot of ways how some of the changes have affected small business in Westport. A lot of it is economics and our generation today. Most of these commercial properties are demanding rents that simply make it nearly impossible for small business to survive. I’m fortunate that I do get support from my area residents and the Westport community. With ever rising taxes, both local property and continued new State of Connecticut taxes, it’s really going to be difficult for many of us to survive going forward. There is plenty good still here in Westport, but I do understand where you are coming from and thank you for your post. Enjoyed reading all the comments here.

  24. Maybe Wendy should ask the people at Doc’s what happened to Juba’s. I would be interested to hear what they had to say.

  25. It all started with McDonalds – I could really go for a burger from Big Top.
    But probably wouldn’t be as good as I remember anyway.

  26. Larry Perlstein

    We won’t ever all agree. But we do all have vote(s) and we can hope that market and political forces drive the change we hope for. Most importantly, we can vote with our patronage. And we can vote for our elected officials hoping to find ones that can help create a town we’re all proud to live in.

    I prefer to spend my breakfast money at Coffee An’ or Doc’s or Bagel Maven. Sometimes it’s Starbucks or like last weekend, a road trip to New Haven to find a “real” breakfast place which Westport noticeably lacks. I like the places I like for the food or for the owners or for ambiance or in rare cases, everything.

    The call to action here is spend your money at the places that you feel some affinity to and avoid the ones where you don’t. DD doesn’t work for me … I really don’t need to eat donuts, I don’t like their coffee, and I find the ambiance garish. But that’s just me.

    I’d love to see more locally owned “non-chain” businesses in town, and I’d the town government to do more to foster them but there are plenty of them already that need our support to survive. Find the ones you like and go spend!

    Dan, in the spirit of other lists you’ve promoted. How about if everyone posts their favorite “local” places and why. Might make for a good little directory.

    • Great idea, Larry (and a great explanation of how and where to spend one’s money). Of course, “06880” commenters don’t need my permission — just fire away with your favorite local places. Bonus points for why. A directory will (probably) follow!

    • “a road trip to New Haven to find a “real” breakfast place which Westport noticeably lacks..”

      Larry,

      You should try “S&S Dugout” on the Post Road just over the Westport Line in Southport.

      They are awesome for a real breakfast!

      • You should not have mentioned the Dugout. It was a nice place to go to get away from the latte’ crowd.

  27. The Dude Abides

    Calise’s is good for breakfast, Larry. But your idea of a list of local establishments is a good one.

    • Larry Perlstein

      Thanks Dude. I’ll check out Calise’s — haven’t been there in ages.

      • The Dude Abides

        Tell Carmine that the Dude sent you. He will put a little extra on your Portugese Ham breakfast sandwich. If you like hot!

  28. Ooops! I didn’t sign in, but I’m the long-winded annonymous one with the smiley face and “chime in” comment. Sorry about that!

    Please also let’s understand many of the landlords are not greedy. Many of them are barely breaking even with the skyrocketing taxes and insurance rates. Tenants have also negotiated lower rents. My family has been in the real estate business in Westport for almost 30 years and I can tell you we are not greedy. We are a small family owned real estate company … not a mom and pop operation, but a father/daughter/son one 😉 We have lower rents at all of our properties, and our expenses are rising at an alarmingly high rate.

    I’m sure there are some landlords out there living large! But, we are not one of them. As I see it, I have air in my lungs, baby in my belly, food on the table and a roof over my head. No complaints here!

  29. Holly Wheeler

    The rent in Westport is likely so high that only the ‘chains’ can afford it. Something to really think about when lamenting the loss of the small, eclectic businesses that ‘were’ Westport in the glory days. I grew up in Fairfield, and used to spend all of my Saturdays hanging out in Westport stores (mostly on and around Main Street, and [sigh] at the Pottery Corner).
    You can’t live in a wealthy town and expect independent businesses to be able to pay the high rents. Similarly, you can’t encourage small businesses to come to town, and then do all your ‘heavy’ shopping for staple items at Walmart.

  30. Larry Perlstein

    At the risk of over-posting, while we are on the subject of chains, I do have to ask if anyone else is amazed by the fact that Westport has the only Arby’s within twenty miles.

    Does anyone go to Arby’s? How have they survived in town all these years?

  31. I very much understand Wendy’s feelings and I, too, was a big customer of Peter’s. I meet people all the time at Doc’s and will continue to do so. I am also a big customer of DDs and believe that anyone willing to invest in my community and provide jobs, especially entry-level or part-time for teens, should be made to feel welcome. With any franchise there is a wide range of consumer attention, with the very best making you feel welcome and appreciated while the worst ignore you. Individual ownership is no guarantee of a great customer experience. My daughter worked at Ann Taylor Loft one summer, learned a lot about retail and service from a very dedicated young manager, while saving enough for personal expenses at college.
    Some of the local merchants around the Fairfield Borders book store expressed there concern in the paper about the impact of that store closing (it is NOT scheduled to close, unlike the one in Wilton). The idea that a “chain” store cannot make a meaningful contribution to the local economy, is an understandable but ultimately self-defeating attitude. I hope we have the best damned DD in the state.

  32. The Dude Abides

    Your point is valid Terry but a local owned store makes a larger impact. Check Shafffer’s recent article in the Times on said point.

    • I read the NYT article and maybe yes and maybe no. The fact remains that if there is no demand, mom and pop won’t survive, and big corporate won’t survive. Your analysis of Mitchell’s is spot on.

    • The economics net out to less spent by store versus cheaper prices. In Doc’s versus DD one has the classic choice. My major point is to welcome ethical business which wants to invest in Westport, regardless of its ownership. The differences betweend local and chain are a lot smaller than difference between store and empty storefront.

  33. I thank-you you for posting Wendy. I have been sick over what has happened to Saugatuck. Don’t worry too much about Doc’s, they too will soon be gone and replaced with the new Giant buildings taking over the area.
    We do need more traffic in this area, it only takes me 15 minutes to get from Exit 17 to Treadwell Ave.!!
    It was sad to see the original Peter’s change hands and die, but it has been depressing to see the building empty. I guess we have to accept change. 🙁

  34. As a displaced 5th Generation Westporter, I too reminisce of the old days. I miss Porky’s butcher shop, The Big Top, Dairy Queen, Rippy’s Farm, Kenny Montgomery’s and Allen’s Clam House, all have succumb to Westport’s large transplant population. A population that has no roots in Westport and does not value the old Westport like many of the natives. They come from all over the United States and numerous parts of the world so, when they come to Westport they bring their own personal preferences for a town. I feel that in ten to twenty years most people that grew up in Westport during the 60’s 70’s and early 80’s will barely recognize the town due to house demos to build McMansions and more franchise commercialization, Westport will became just another town with no personality; at least no one can take away my memories of my hometown .

    • The Dude Abides

      Wynn, I grew up here in the 50’s-60’s, moved away and have been back for 5 years. While the shops, buildings, street signs, schools and many other aspects of the physical side of Westport has changed, I find the people much the same. Hardworking middle class folks who value their community. I know that is not the perception of many but it is my experience. Westport is far more than a postcard. Keep the faith. 5 generations. Remarkable.

      • Let’s see: The Big Top in Westport closed because of Westport’s “large transplant population.” So why did its sister – The Big Top in New Haven’s Westville – close … despite the fact that the same people live nearby who lived there in the 1960’s. There’s a constant shift in ownership, in tastes, and – yes – in demographics. Enjoy your memories from wherever you are.

      • This is middle class?
        Westport was named the fifth top-earning city in the US, with a median family income of $193,540 and median home price of $1,200,000 in July, 2008.

        • Not a city and who is doing the naming?

        • July 2008? Then drop everything by a 1/3.

        • Still not middle class, everywhere else should be dropped by a third as well, and third is just a guess isn’t it? The median family income in the US for the same year was less than one third of the $193,540.

          • Hush McCormick

            The mention of middle class does not have to be defined by income. It is an instilled set of values and mentality. I agree that Westport may defined as middle class despite the snobs who wish they are some kind of aristocratic rich snobs. In effect, they are anti-snobs snobs. Get my drift?

          • If “middle class” is not a reference to economic status, then it is a phrase without any specific meaning. However, achieving higher economic status does not necessary bring with it anything other than a fatter wallet.

          • Hush McCormick

            Actually I have found really fat wallets tend to lead to really screwed up kids. And you are “spot on”. Middle class has no specific meaning and is gradually disappearing as the disparity between the rich and not-so-rich widens. Still, a certain set of values attributed to the middle class of the past is applicable to many Westporters whether they like it or not. I actually think that many like to promulgate this so-called “entitlement,” “rude” and “rich” labels to satisfy their own self egos. FWIW, the Dude is on hiatus.

          • I hope all is well with The Dude.

          • Hush McCormick

            Fine. He is hanging out with Charlie Sheen.

          • Hush McCormick

            Did ya see the NYTimes Magazine article about the possibility of states going bankrupt? I hold a lot of minis. Do I need to start picking up aluminum cans??????????????????????

          • Stick with state issued GO’s and you should not have too much exposure to bankruptcy. CT will not likely default. In the past when muni entities have defaulted on GO’s, they have typically paid the deferred interest once they came out of bankruptcy; if they ever want to issue bonds again they better, BTW this advice is worth exactly what you paid for it. Right now, the default threat seems to be a bargaining tool when dealing with public employee unions. Maybe Joseloff should be reading the article in the NYT.

  35. Gary Singer

    Time marches on, Wendy. Be thankful that it’s another DD instead of another Starbucks – the DD for the elite. And DD has several fresh, tasty goodies for less than a buck, Starbucks has about three for over two bucks. That pays for the
    chair so one can open one’s laptop and look productive.

    • Two local Starbucks donate their leftover pastries and cookies to STAR, the organization that helps those with mental handicaps. I won’t drink their coffee, but they have earned my respect and gratitude.

  36. Wow. 75 comments in the first 10 hours!

  37. I love Dunkin’ Donuts! If Dunkin’ Donuts is a tragedy to Westport, aren’t the McMansion’s worse? I can’t believe McDonald’s built all those atrocities!

  38. Jill Ross Beres

    I agree, completely

    We have to get the names of the land lords and send hundreds of letters and publish their names in the newspapers and shame them because it is all about GREED.

  39. Growing up in Westport in the 60’s looks much better now than it did then.

    • The Dude Abides

      Amen, Buck. I voice of sanity. I mean you ever see the bathroom at Bill’s Smoke Shop?

      • Nice one Dude!
        Just got in there when I was 10 with my older brother, only place in westport at the time I remember with more than one pinball machine in it.

  40. Isn’t all coffee imported?

    • Certainly the coffee sold to the public is. I think we touched on this matter in an earlier thread. The local gas station sells gas made from oil that is pumped out of the ground all over the world. I don’t think rasberries in the local store right now were raised locally, but when you are on a religious crusade, it’s the thought that counts; facts tend to just get in the way.

  41. The Dude Abides

    I always buy the cheapest, you?

  42. 10 Years in Westport

    I agree. You should leave now.

  43. As we drove home from dinner at the Black Duck last night and approached Peter’s Square it was nice to see some activity. The empty building was a very depressing site. I am a third generation Westporter and have seen many changes. My late mother remembered the horse & buggy days and I’m sure my grandparents would not recognize the town as it is today. It also seems like there are many of us that grew up in Westport on Dan’s blog. We should all meet at Compo Beach next summer.!! Maybe Dan can arrange it.

    • Great idea, Loretta — and one I am happy to farm out. Any volunteers?!

      This is a very interesting thread on Dunkin’ Donuts. The comments seem very insightful and nuanced. It will be interesting to see how DD fits in once the new Saugatuck development is completed — and where Doc’s fits into the mix. I am a big fan — and I don’t think their coffee is bad at all!

  44. An empty building!

    To all you who have decided what is best for other people to do with their own money, use YOUR own money to open one of the stores you are whining about no longer existing.

    We would always try to avoid Peter’s Bridge Market when I was living in Westport in the 60’s. We would even go to Grubs before Peter’s.

  45. Student's Concern

    My issue with all these chains now populating Westport is that they are much more likely to hire adults who can commit to full time jobs than the local highschoolers in search of part-time or summer jobs. Applications are being sent in and few kids are hearing back favorably. Any ideas of places in need of hard working students with limited experience?

  46. The Dude Abides

    Stop & Shop is always hiring. I worked at Mitchell’s during high school and they have a long history of hiring “stock boys” from Staples. Blockbuster is looking I know and for summer jobs, time to get in an application for Westport Parks and Recreation. Ton of summer jobs there. Good luck!

  47. If Westport P&Z can bag plastic bags and say no to drive-throughs, so why not do something about tacky chains “populating” Westport?

    • Dick Lowenstein

      Whether it’s credit or blame, it was the RTM, not the P&Z, that banned plastic bags.

  48. The ruling class can do many things; not all of them improve the welfare of the community. If DD doesn’t serve a need; it wll not survive. I would much prefer the existence of “tacky chains” to the meddling of the political class.

  49. To all the “pro” Dunkin posters (or anti-anti Dunkin posters), have you actually been over there and SEEN those ugly orange and pink flag streamer thingies? I refuse to enter this chain vs. local business debate, but come on, P & Z, those hideous streamers have to go.

    P.S.
    I grew up on Compo & Old Mill Beach…there was nothing wrong with Peter’s and I never heard anyone refer to Stinky Kenny’s as “Grubs.” Maybe that’s what you grown ups called it, but to me and my friends on our bikes buying Snickers and Pop Rocks who actually stuck around to talk to Ken it was always “Stinky Kenny’s.”

    • What was wrong with Peter’s was that it was not economically viable, that’s all.

    • From the mid-’60s through at least the mid-’70s, it was always “Grubs” to us. For good reason.

      Only later did I learn that “Grub” — aka Kenny Montgomery — left tens of millions of dollars to the Y.

      • i dont know anyone from that generation that called it anything but “GRUBBS”? I was flying on usair a couple years ago and with nothing else to do picked up the dreaded “plane magazine” and behold an article named “my home town”. it was written by steve katz who grew up on old mill beach in the 60’s. in this article he wrote about how great it was to grow up in westport and used the name “Grubbs” to describe old kenny’s store! great article and wish i kept the mag.. PS: Steve is currently a writer and living in England according to the article.

        • Actually, it’s Greg Katz. I believe the story was in American Airlines’ American Way magazine. Greg is a gifted writer, who won a Pulitzer Prize with the Dallas Morning News for his work on a story on abused women in Guatemala.

  50. Not So Grubby

    I remember reading on the web in the 1990’s that Kenny was a great storyteller and that kids would hang out in the back listening to his stories.

  51. WOW, This really blew my hair back (whats left of it anyway). I simply remember this as “Jerry’s Hardware”. my father took me there all most every weekend growing up before the days of home depot. does anyone know if that seafood store is still there? it was down the old creaking staircase and over looked the saugatuck river.

  52. Umm wendy I’ve been a Westport resident my entire life on Hiawatha lane and peter’s closed down two years before dunkin moved in. The economy is terrible right now for small business owners it is what it is. Calm down its the only dunkin in all of Westport. And stop calling it saugatuck like its a separate town saugatuck is just a part of westport. It’s not the end of the world

  53. Ps docs is gone too sorry love