There’s never a good time for a commercial property owner to do a major renovation.
But there is a worst time: the holiday shopping season.
Steve Silver has lived or worked here his entire life. He and his sister Sue have a combined 70 years’ experience with Silver of Westport, the store their father founded in 1951. It’s the oldest continually operating store in town.
Their lease in Compo Acres Shopping Center has 16 years to go. Since April, though, they’ve been looking for someone to join them, or take over their luggage and gifts store. Nearing retirement, they want fresh ideas (and legs).
April is when construction began on the center. Steve says their landlord — Equity One — “seems to be doing everything possible to make our business fail.”
The company — which owns 2 other shopping centers in town — has simultaneously blasted and reshaped the back hill into level parking spaces; installed new sidewalks and curbs around the building, and gutted 2 stores for new tenants.
The results will be nice, but timing is everything. Compo Acres has been a mess for 7 months. And Equity One plans to continue work straight through Christmas.
The Silvers — and several other tenants — asked for a break from November 1 through December 25. That’s the period when most businesses make most of their money. The landlord said no.
“We all love what we do here,” Steve says. “Our staff has stayed with us for over 15 years. Endless numbers of young people pass through here every Christmas, helping us. Many of them come back to visit, and remember their experience.”
Silver of Westport has supported nearly every charity that knocks on their door. That’s what locally owned businesses do. Steve himself was a 33-year United Way volunteer, and chaired 2 preschools.
“I always hear about mom-and-pop businesses failing,” Steve says. “I want people to know that it is landlords you have to look at — well, at least Equity One. And if nothing happens here, Equity One — which has already forced out businesses at Fresh Market center — needs to know how much Westporters care about their hometown.”
In 1963, Silver’s burned to the ground. Townspeople, fellow merchants — and a caring landlord — helped Steve and Sue’s father get back on his feet.
Silver’s asks area shoppers to help them and their retail neighbors out this holiday season. Ignore the parking mess. Ignore the scaffolding that makes it seem like the shopping center is closed.
Instead, help support the many local businesses that make Westport what it is.
And, if you’d like, contact Equity One to ask for a holiday season without hassles. Project coordinator is Michael Lai (email@example.com); leasing agent is Eliot Fierberg (firstname.lastname@example.org), and COO is Michael Makinen (email@example.com).