When Silver’s closed for good on Saturday — after more than 6 decades in Westport — it seemed liked the end of one more important, beloved and unique mom-and-pop store.
But there may be life left in the Compo Acres store after all. And that could be very good news for many other mom-and-pops (plus everyone else) indeed.
Steve Silver has 15 years left on his lease. He’s excited by the idea of reconfiguring his 2900-square foot store into a funky, fun and very original “Westport Bazaar.”
The idea — developed with Betsy Pollak, and refined by Gary Cosgrave — was to offer shared space to anyone with one-of-a-kind products to sell. Jewelry, vintage goods, gifts, candy, scarves, canes, artwork, handcrafted belt buckles — all could be sold at small counters or kiosks.
A couple of dozen artisans/merchants would share Steve’s space. Some would be small businesspeople who have been forced out of storefronts by rising rents (or fear they soon will be). Others would be folks who up to now have worked out of their homes (or dreamed of doing so).
It’s the kind of place where a small jewelry-maker could even place 2 or 3 pieces in someone else’s showcase.
The “Westport Bazaar” would be run like a co-op. Fees would be based on a consignment model. All who have space would be asked to provide a certain number of work hours. Each person’s energy — and talents — would help the venture as a whole.
Steve’s idea has created tremendous excitement among Westport’s entrepreneurial, creative mom-and-pop class. But to make it work, he needs 3 things:
- An architect who can take existing CAD drawings, and show in the plan all elements needed in the remodel
- A lawyer who can help expedite the plan with the landlord
- A couple of investor/angels, or low-cost effective help in the startup phase.
This is a win-win-win for Westport. Mom-and-pops and creative types will have an outlet for their goods. Shoppers will have a new, 1-stop spot for merchandise they can’t find anywhere else. Compo Acres will keep a valuable, traffic-driving tenant.
It’s a “bazaar” story that truly makes a lot of sense.
(Interested in helping out as an architect, attorney or investor/angel? Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Want to know more as a small businessperson? Email email@example.com.)