A “Bazaar” New Life For Silver’s?

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, in the store that bears his name.

Steve Silver, in the store that bears his name.

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.

In Steve Silver's plan, shelves of gifts and luggage would be replaced by stalls filled with jewelry, vintage goods and other unique items.

In Steve Silver’s plan, shelves of gifts and luggage would be replaced by stalls filled with jewelry, vintage goods and other unique items.

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 steve@silverofwestport.net. Want to know more as a small businessperson? Email betsy@ourtowncrier.com.) 

23 responses to “A “Bazaar” New Life For Silver’s?

  1. Stephanie Bass

    Brilliant

  2. Yay! The Silver bazaar, I LOVE it! Glad to help with this…. I will work, or…help set up/free
    Betsy p Kahn

  3. What a wonderful idea.I hope this happens -it sounds like the westport I grew up in!hope to visit the westport bazaar!

  4. As a native Westporter since 1960 I am thrilled to see that parts of the old Westport may return. I am not an architect or an attorney, but I am a psychotherapist who works with numerous, talented artists. I have been running a private practice in town for 32 years and understand how costs have risen for small business. When Steve is ready, i would love to connect him with some of these artists. Thank you. Ilise Gold, LPC at Ilise Gold Life Management, LLC 203 222 9223

  5. Julie Van Norden

    I love this idea!

  6. fabulous idea

  7. Regarding architect/lawyer: What does “help out” mean? Are you seeking volunteers to donate services pro bono, or paid, perhaps at discounted rates? It’s important to be clear before we can reach out.

    • Jessica,
      We are looking for volunteers to get the changes, non structural to the landlord as he needs to see what we are hoping to achieve

  8. Hooray! The Souk on the Saugatuck. mmm

  9. karen Howes Westport youth comm.

    Sounds very interesting and needed ! How about a few non-profits who work with jewellery and crafts to add another dimension ? I am with a non-profit in Nicaragua, the kids in our program make really neat, inexpensive jewellery !!!

  10. Dan
    I am not from Westport but enjoy your column and would like to salute your efforts, creativity and genuine concern for your hometown.

  11. Many now use crowd source sites to raise funds for entrepreneurial efforts.This seems like a worthy project if someone knows how to set it up.
    Then many in the community would be able to donate the amount they are able and I have seen these raise funds quickly .

  12. Great concept!

  13. I will gladly help. One product my company manufacturers is Point of Sale printers. The ones printing receipts for the customers. I would be glad to donate printers for each ‘booth’ set up. In addition we still the paper and will work with each new ‘vendor’ to get you great prices to help.

    I would also be glad to donate my time to help organize and help with the start up phase.

    Steve-I will send you a quick email.

  14. Hi..I own and operate two of these in NC. Design Archives Vintage & Handmade Emporium. I started them in 2011. It is a great way for everyone to succeed with their small businesses and the fact that you already have an established retail operation gives you a tremendous advantage over just being a startup. I would avoid an architect and startup angel funding…You can do it on your own with very little money. Nothing fancy…..I would also avoid using vendors as volunteer employees….some may be great but some won’t have everyone’s best interest in mind. Some are introverts and not good sales people. Go ahead and hire a few good employees, and it might be that they are also your best vendors.
    Your vendors can design and pay for their own booth space. You do not need an architect to design anything fancy. I sketched mine out and just put up 2×4 studs and electrical outlets then each vendor makes their own walls. Pegboard, slat wall, wall board, whatever works for them. If they leave, they sell it at a good price to the next vendor. Do you have over 2000 sq feet of floor? You need at least that.

  15. This sounds great! Makes me wish I still lived in Westport. This is just what I have wanted to do ever since being forced out of Provincetown on the Cape due to the high cost of living there now. There is nothing like having somewhere to sell your creations and be able to actually interact with your customers. I really loved having my own gallery for a couple of years. My customers enjoyed being able to speak with the person who created what they wanted to buy and to ask questions.
    I will look forward with great interest to see how this unfolds!

  16. Chris Montgomery

    Love this idea Steve!!!! Can’t wait to come visit again!

  17. I knew Steve wasn’t ready to retire to a gated community in Palm Beach and play golf all day. What a hoot! I didn’t see Susan’s name. She has the energy, personality and smarts to really help a venture like this.

  18. This is very exciting; I hope they can make it happen. Just the kind of energy Westport needs!

  19. Stephen Silver

    Thank you all for the wonderful interest and support and I’m sure with all this help we will move forward. So keep an eye on Compo Acres and Dan and I will do our best to keep you informed.

  20. Sarah anne Bonner O'Neill

    Sarah Bonner O’Neill

  21. Sarah anne Bonner O'Neill

    Proud of you Steve great idea!!!!! Better idea? Hire me to provide comic relief.! What do you say? Of Course I live on the Georgia coast now so the commute would be tough,but as you used to do on snow days you can pick me up! Truly a wonderful idea, get busy,I may even take a trip to see the. New digs Best wishes for your new enterprise ! Love it..peace,Sarah