Stop And Shop Here

Here is what I did not do on (aptly named)  “Black Friday”:

  • I did not pepper-spray fellow shoppers to keep them from an Xbox I wanted.
  • I did not get into fistfights, or stab anyone.
  • I did not shoot anyone in a parking lot.

All that happened at Walmarts, from Milford, Connecticut to California.

Thank god we don’t have a Walmart in Westport.  Though, Lord knows, the soon-to-be vacant YMCA would be a great spot for one.  Talk about bringing action to downtown!

While Westport stores did not open at 10 p.m. Thanksgiving Day — we may be crazy about shopping, but we’re not lunatics — Main Street was mildly to moderately packed this weekend.  I didn’t see anyone I knew, though.  Maybe Yogi Berra was right:  Nobody goes there anymore.  It’s too crowded.

Thanksgiving weekend in downtown Westport.

I’m not sure what attracts out-of-towners to downtown Westport.  Banana Republic, Eileen Fisher, The Gap, J. Crew, Pottery Barn — those are not exactly unique stores.

Of course, there are plenty of local businesses.  And just as the farmers’ market focuses attention on home-grown bounty, this shopping season should spotlight Westport merchants.

No, Mitchell’s doesn’t weave its own cloth.  But here’s what they do:  They always step up to support Westport organizations.  Buy an ad for our program book?  Donate something to our auction?  Help out a kid in need, with no public recognition?

Sure!  Just tell us what you need! says Bill, Jack or any of the 3rd-generation Mitchells now running the store.

When was the last time — to pick a name out of a hat —  Brooks Brothers did something like that?

Steve Silver, in the store that bears his name.

Same with Silver’s.  And Silver Ribbon.  And Sally’s Place.  Think of how many times you’ve seen their ads in programs.  They support school plays, sports teams, every fundraising effort imaginable.

The farmer’s market supports local, sustainable agriculture.  This holiday season, let’s support local, sustainable businesses.

We don’t do all our shopping at farmer’s markets, of course.  Sometimes we go Stop & Shop.

You won’t find every gift at a locally owned store.  If you were to get me, say, a gift certificate for books, I’d recommend Barnes & Noble — it’s close, convenient, and we long ago drove every independent bookstore out of town.

All I’m saying is, stop before you shop.  This month, think about supporting the Westport merchants who, month after month and year after year, support Westport.

Just stay away from Walmart.  You may not make it out alive.

29 responses to “Stop And Shop Here

  1. Silver’s is an amazing and wonderful store. I always discover some really interesting gift idea, feed my handbag addiction, and love the personal service. Steve Silver really knows his luggage and packing issues, and is great for advice if you’re going on a trip of any kind. Plus, I really love the idea of supporting Westport’s tax base by shopping in Westport – same reason I’ll go to Achorn’s before CVS. Our few remaining local merchants are town treasures and I’ll do whatever I can to keep them here.

  2. Our family walked through downtown on Black Friday… mostly we window shopped, but dined at Oscar’s Deli (their Matzoh Ball soup is always a treat) and when my daughter complained she was still hungry we dipped into Westport Pizza for a slice. We’ll be visiting Silver’s and Sally’s Place this holiday season. And we can hardly wait for the Farmers’ Market this week at Gilbertie’s. We love and support our local merchants.

    • Elizabeth
      Oscar’s and Westport Pizzaria will be serving up free Matzo Ball Soup and slices at this Thursday’s Celebration of Giving event at Christ & Holy Trinity Church from 5:00pm – 7:30pm. Stop by for great entertainment, good cheer (ie free drinks!), Santa, and support some of Westport’s other jewels, our local non-profits. Fifteen organizations will have wish lists of items that will directly benefit their mission. “Buy” one as a great tangible, alternative gift for that hard-to-buy-for person on your list. The event is free and open to all.

  3. As a former employee of Arcudis, Greens Farms Spirit Shop, and Silvers of Westport, Thank you Dan for spotlighting the places where young boys become men. Responsiblity is the key to life and all of my bosses taught that with tough love! How many of our brothers or sisters worked at these places? Joe Arcudi with pasta sauce on shirt was the working man! A great boss and ewwww Yankees fan! Jack Riley was the Irish boss whose work ethic was amazing and he taught me how to eat lunch in the plush breakroom of old empty wine boxes( Charpentiers?) But the one who will always welcome me with open arms and a scared look on his face is Steve Silver…who always called me “Special Ed”. If you can get to Silvers on Chritmas Eve then just stop for a second and enjoy the madness! I know I did! Thanks again to Dan Woog (former coach both on and off the field) who taught me dedication to be whatever you set out to be! Customer Service is vital to all the places I have worked…glad to see it is still working! Peace!

  4. Don’t forget the Remarkable Gift Shop at the Westport Historical Society. The shop has many Westport-related books and gift items–all unique.
    The shop is open Monday-Friday 10-4, Saturday 12-4.

    Katie Chase

  5. Amen, Dan. Spot on (as always). This one really made me smile. So true…so very, very true.
    Happy Holidays: Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah and a Healthy New Year!

  6. I’ve see some TV commercials about a Shop Local Day and checked out this website for more information:
    Some nice local efforts under way — I like Asheville’s art.

    It would be great to see more of an organized effort here to support local businesses. There are compelling reasons, of course (see the website for the economics). I am happy to see that the Downtown Merchants Assn. is sponsoring a holiday gift-giving event to support local nonprofits, from First Night to Homes with Hope to the Family Y. It’s at the Christ and Holy Trinity Church downtown on Dec. 1, starting at 5 pm after the tree-lighting ceremony at City Hall — holiday treats, and even an ice-sculpture demonstration…

  7. A follow-up piece might probe why teens like shopping at Walmart so much

    • Duh, cuz it is cheap

      • There are close to 10,000 Walmart stores in 28 countries, but nobody shops there. There are 3 Dunkin Donuts stores in Westport, but no one eats their donuts. Communities with Walmart stores have on average food costs that are 10% to 15% lower than communities without a Walmart. I never shop there and I don’t ever eat a Dunkin Donut. I miss the Remarkable Book Store too; never shopped there, but I miss it.

        • Can't Drive 55

          WalMart is the largest retailer and grocery retailer in the country. Someone shops there. I miss 32 cents for a gallon of gas too. You didn’t miss much with the Remarkable Book Store except the need of sunglasses entering.

  8. Down south, they call it Minority Mart. One reason we don’t have one here. Record sales this past Friday. Maybe we should?

  9. Thanks,Dan, for promoting the very sensible “shop local” idea. I’m over 1000 miles away, and can’t. If I still lived there, I’d be heading to Silver’s to ask Steve and Susan to help me with all my Christmas shopping. They’re
    the best, and represent what Westport used to be and maybe still can become.

  10. OK, Dan. I’ll be checking it out and asking Santa to follow through.

  11. Yes, and I miss the Remarkable Book Store and agree that many of our “local” stores like Silvers really understand customer service. I read somewhere the other day that 40% of what is spent in local stores stays in the community while only 14% spent in a national chain stays. That alone should get people to shop local.

  12. Most can’t compete with the corporate giants. I like Silver’s but it is a dinosaur. I can’t afford to walk into Mitchell’s. There are economic indicators why these “Mom & Pop” stores go out of business. Your statistics are flawed. No where near 40% of the owners and/or employees live in Westport, let alone keep their money here.

  13. I love local stores – there just aren’t enough of them anymore! But, Kassie Foss and I design, sell and distribute holiday cards (Onion HIll Designs) that feature Westport scenes, and are ONLY sold in LOCAL stores … like Max’s Art Supplies in Westport, Achorn’s, The Historical Society, Saugatuck Rowing Club … so we are grateful for their existance and support them!

  14. For luggage and gifts, Silver’s can’t be beat. And they have a price guarantee on luggage to match on line prices. Great gift wrapping and engraving, plus outstanding sales assistance.
    You can do almost every gift shopping there for all your friends and relatives.

  15. Check out the programs for West Side Story, the Candlelight Concert, the Wrecker’s Football program, etc….SOME retail establishments and businesses that are NOT strictly local but are LOCATED in Westport do support Westport causes in this way….some “chains’ do have a conscience! Keep your eyes open and remember everyone who does business in Westport contributes to our tax base here!

    • I just looked through the “West Side Story” program. I identified over 60 completely local businesses — stores, bakeries, dentists, restaurants, tradespeople.

      There were a couple of national organizations, like, with parental connections to Staples Players.

      There was one non-profit: Westport Young Woman’s League.

      There were a couple of national companies (Newman’s Own, Melissa & Doug), with headquarters in Westport (and both Melissa and Doug are Staples grads). Mitchell’s — whose family has long roots in Westport — also took out a large ad.

      (The Mitchell family and Melissa and Doug also attend every show.)

      The ONLY national chain I could identify was Princeton Review — and their business is selling SAT courses to Westport students.

  16. Actually… Brooks Brothers has a great relationship with the Gillespie Center and regularly donates clothing 🙂

  17. Enterprises with a national scope support the Westport Country Playhouse.

  18. Poland Spring , TD Bank, and Tiffany’s are a few of the national companies that have supplied both product and financial support.

  19. I was pitching in a little league game in the early 80’s in Westport and the Ump didn’t show up. Bill Mitchell came out of the stands and stood behind the pitcher’s mound calling balls and strikes. I was wild and walking everyone. I was on the verge of emotional collapse. In a soft voice I heard Bill Mitchell say things like “deep breath”…”calm down”…”take it easy”. he kept it up for the rest of the inning. It worked (I think he gave me a few pitches). I think of that every time I hear a Mitchells reference.