Today it’s Banana Republic — one of 600 in the world.
But for 67 years, 44 Main Street was the site of Klein’s. It was the only Klein’s on earth.
The store opened in 1937, selling small stationery items. Over the years it added records, books, cameras, typewriters, electronics and more. If it wasn’t a true “department store” like Macy’s, Neiman-Marcus or JC Penney, it was the closest thing Westport had.
From 1937 through 1999, Stanley Klein — who founded the store with his parents, Henry and Ada — was part of the store that bore his family’s name.
He was an old-time merchant: part of a Main Street that was as real as its name is quaint. He was active and engaged, in the store and throughout town.
He supported the Westport Downtown Merchants Association, United Way, Little League, and the library. Klein’s was part of the community, and there was a community feeling in the store. Some of the staff worked there nearly as long as Stanley.
He retired in 1999, handing the reins over to his son-in-law Bob Hertzel. Klein’s closed in 2004, a victim of changing local and national demographics and retail landscapes.
Stanley Klein died on Sunday, after a long battle with congestive heart disease.
He leaves behind his wife, sister, 3 children, 4 grandchildren — and the memories of generations of Westporters, who knew Klein’s was the place to go.
And Stanley Klein was the man who made it so.