Sally White’s first customers followed her from Klein’s.
Over the years, she added more — many more — thanks to adoring word-of-mouth recommendations.
The customers are fewer now. That’s what happens when you own a “record store,” and most folks get their music through cyberspace.
But plenty of people still discover Sally’s Place (it’s on the less-fancy stretch of Main Street, just past Elm Street). Once they find it, they love it. And they love her even more.
Claire Bangser is a huge fan. A lifelong Westporter and 2005 Staples High School grad, she first met Sally at age 14, while writing an article for the school paper about “Westport’s best kept secret.”
They connected immediately. Sally has that effect on whoever walks through her door.
“Her stories resonate with me,” Claire says. “I’m inspired by how much she gives to everyone around her, with absolutely no ego. She reminds me to stay humble.”
But while most fans simply extol Sally — her generosity, her welcoming shop, her encyclopedic knowledge of all things musical — Claire has done more.
She made a video about this quiet Westport legend. It’s called “Back to the Basics.”
Claire had always been an artist. She got into film just last year — traveling on a National Geographic Young Explorers grant to Turkey and the South Caucasus — but she has nailed her 1st-ever video portrait. It’s filled with a little history, a little background jazz music, and a lot of love.
“Sally is the original Shazam,” says Claire, referring to the owner’s astonishing ability to hear 2 bars hummed off-key to the most obscure song, then come up with the title, artist and label. Three days later, the CD is waiting for you. If you decide you don’t want it — hey, no problem.
“I want more people to know about Sally,” Claire says. “The music industry may be moving online, but Sally most certainly is not. She’s a rare gem in a town (and country) that is slowly being overtaken by large chains. She’s a true expert when it comes to music.”
Claire wishes she could have included more of Sally’s wonderful stories in the video. But she hopes it whets people’s appetites to hear those tales themselves.
Thanks to Claire’s video, you don’t have to actually go to Sally’s Place to experience her wonderfulness.
But you should.
Mount the few steps. You’ll hear great music. You’ll learn a lot. You may even see a devoted fan, like Keith Richards.
Most importantly, you’ll find an amazing woman — a throwback to the days when Main Street was filled with Sally Whites.
And when no one needed a reason to make a video, paying homage to a hometown heroine.
(To watch Claire Bangser’s video, click here.)