Brownstone Finds A Main Street Home

Victoria Schallert reels off the names of locally owned, independent businesses downtown:

Le Rouge by Aarti. Dovecote. Lucy’s. Bungalow. Swoon. Faye Kim. Organachs. Age of Reason. Bespoke Designs. Oddz. Savvy & Grace. Soleil Toile. Fetaire. Bella Bridesmaids. Noya Fine Jewelry.

Plus all the smaller chains of just a few shops, like Lux Bond & Green, Shoe Inn and Shoes ‘n’ More.

And all the restaurants, ranging from Jeera Thai and Finalmente to Boca, Tavern on Main, Jesup Hall, Le Penguin, Joe’s and Westport Pizzerias, The ‘Port and many others.

Her point is: Downtown — including sometimes-overlooked Sconset Square and the Saugatuck River’s west bank — is not just chain stores (and not just women’s clothing).

Schallert should know. She’s the longtime owner of The Brownstone. That’s the jewelry, accesories and (okay) women’s clothing store on the 2nd floor of 142 Main Street.

The Brownstone, on the 2nd floor of 142 Main Street.

More directly, her fun, fashionable and eclectic shop sits right between Tavern on Main and Brooks Corner. The building once housed the original Ice Cream Parlor.

You don’t get more homegrown than that.

Schallert — whose background was in corporate security compliance — switched gears and careers in 2005. Her first Brownstone was on Washington Street in South Norwalk.

But that street was “dying,” she says. So 2 years later she joined with Westporter Mariana Hurtado (who worked at Banana Republic) and Celeste Puglisi (of Shoe Inn and Banana Republic), and moved to 36 Main Street.

She adored the location — right before Banana Republic and Shoe Inn — as well as landlord Drew Friedman.

“He gave us an opportunity. He really cared about the town,” Schallert says.

Victoria Schallert and Mariana Hurtado. Their store looks out over Main Street.

Of course, no store is ever static.

Over the years, as entertaining styles changed, The Brownstone’s focus shifted too. They now sell fewer home accessory items like candelabras; more jewelry, handbags and clothing.

Schallert and her partners work hard to welcome customers. They serve coffee and tea. (“A big corporate company might worry about the liability if someone spills,” she notes.) They gift wrap too, which many chains have gotten away from.

After Friedman sold in 2014, the new owners — Forstone Capital — wanted a larger tenant. They offered Schallert space upstairs. But the town said no to a zoning change that would have allowed the move.

So The Brownstone headed up the street, where Great Stuff had been.

Schallert loves that location — all of Main Street, in fact.

She knows it’s not perfect. It floods. (That’s why she had a tile — not wood — floor at her ground floor location. And when Hurricane Sandy hit, the owners put merchandise in their cars and brought it to their homes.)

A small part of The Brownstone’s offerings.

Schallert adds, “veryone wants independents. But rents are high.”

Yet, Schallert says, because of its small, walkable size, downtown Westport could be like a European village. She envisions folks strolling from Sconset Square through Main Street and across the river, at all hours of the day and evening.

“Everyone exercises here,” she notes. “They should walk downtown.”

But that takes a different mindset, she admits. “People invest in the schools and the library. They have to invest in — and think about — downtown too. They have to realize it nourishes us.”

Schallert wants everyone to know: You can get plenty of locally owned, great nourishment throughout downtown Westport.

And not just at our wonderful restaurants.

15 responses to “Brownstone Finds A Main Street Home

  1. Jill Turner Odice

    Age of Reason, Shoe Inn,Westport Pizzaria are the only names I recognize from having lived in Westport in the 60s-70s.
    I remember when Jason Raum (Chou Chou’s Dad) had Jewels by Jason in that location. I stayed in the apartment upstairs. Later on I met my future husband Louis Odice eho had his hair salon in the same space on the 3rd floor. My friends Matt and Bob Hampel had a jewelry repair shop downstairs in the back.
    I have seen several businesses come and go from that location. It really is a wonderful spot on Main street and holds many great memories for me!

    • Victoria Schallert

      We love learning about the history of our space, Jill. Thank you so much. We have had the pleasure of meeting a previous tenant, who owned a boutique for bridal and formal attire. Her daughter worked with her for many years. The mother and daughter visited us on different days. Each shared heartwarming memories of working together.

  2. There staff is great and wonderful peaple would do anything for anybody jjust walk in they will always smile or the best I hope Jim and Jen and Melissa Kane all go there toghter and all the shops on main st please visit them if you have not before Christmas

    • Victoria Schallert

      Thank you, Sal for visiting and supporting us. Celeste, Mariana and I say your smile adds a bit more sparkle to the day.

  3. This store is fabulous and the owners are fabulous too! They are so friendly and nice and have great taste. I have several items of theirs and a few items for under the tree already. They’ve done the choosing for you. Worth a trip just to go there.

    • Victoria Schallert

      Thank you for your kind words, Mary. They have delighted Celeste, Mariana and me. We enjoy making others happy.

  4. I love The Brownstone and Victoria and Celeste (never met Mariana, but I am sure she’s as lovely as V and C). They have an amazing selection of beautiful things and reasonable prices, are always so incredibly welcoming, their gift wrapping makes your gift twice as special, and they never fail to remember and ask about my mom and MIL, who live in the Carolinas and visit the store every time they’re in Westport. I hope they are successful and around for many years to come! Happy holidays to V, C, and M and their families!

    • Victoria Schallert

      Happy holidays to you and your family! We are pleased to know we have made you happy and delighted to know you and your family. (P.S. Mariana wants you to know she looks forward to meeting you one day.) Thank you for your loyalty and support.

  5. The Brownstone is my favorite store. It’s my ‘go to’ store where I can always find something special. Sometimes, I just walk in to chat with Celeste, Mariana and Victoria and end up buying something. They are so friendly, lovely and helpful. Everything is displayed beautifully and everything is beautiful. They are also very generous. Every year for as long as I can remember, they donate something beautiful to the Yankee Doodle Fair fundraiser. Thank you Brownstone for being in Westport. Hope you stay for many many years.

    • Victoria Schallert

      Thank you for your wonderful comments, Leah. We love our chats and we love supporting the Yankee Doodle Fair Fundraiser. It’s all about community, people, and building bonds that strengthen both.

  6. JILL TURNER ODICE WAS CORRECT. JASON RAUM’S JEWELRY STORE WAS LOCATED AT 142 MAIN STREET IN “BROWNSTONE’S” SPACE THE ICE CREAM PARLOR WAS LOCATED IN 146 MAIN STREET FOLLOWED BY CHEZ PIERRE AND NOW TAVERN ON MAIN. 148 HAS IT’S OWN HISTORY BUT THAT’S FOR ANOTHER TIME. THE ENTIRE PROPERTY (142-146 AND 148) HAS BELONGED TO THE TEUSCHER FAMILY WHO I BELIEVE BOUGHT IT 1944.

  7. Wonderful shop – you can buy a gift for anyone there!

    • Victoria Schallert

      Thank you, Susan! Celeste, Mariana and I deeply appreciate your loyalty and support as well as the loyalty and support our boutique receives from so many others. We love what we do.

  8. Victoria Schallert

    During this holiday season, please consider popping into a mom-and-pop retailer or restaurant that is located in one of Westport’s commercial neighborhoods. These businesses keep a greater portion of their income in the community. Dan Woog kindly included a list of many retailers. More independent retailers and restaurants are located in Saugatuck, Post Roads East and West. – All offer the opportunity to discover something new.

  9. All the big box stores are moving out. Nike will be gone, Allen Edmonds will also be gone all in the next year. Amazon has made off the rack shopping obsolete. Others will follow when the mall in norwalk opens. Obviously the executives at these much larger companys see it and they don’t wanna pay $130 per square foot anymore either. There is no value in it to the walk-in consumer.

    When I called about 900 SF on Main ST. the landlord quoted me $9000 per month. Small start ups can’t afford that! If you want to see Main Street have an influx of new creative companys, style, service and real homegrown culture then they have to get to $30 per SF. This is the main reason I will not bring my stores to Main Street. If you want to see this economy grow then don’t bankrupt the people who create actual products, services and jobs!

    I love this town, I love my customers and I know first hand that all the shops that were mentioned here work incredibly hard to please thier clients and make sure that they are happy and have an actually experience at their stores.

    If you give someone an opportunity to grow in a space and a in a community you will soon find that they will want to open another idea, shop, service, etc.. We all have the drive to expand. We’re like trees. We start small then we need bigger planters, before you know it we’re in the ground, but if we can’t afford to take root then we shrivel up and die…

    Thanks Dan for shedding some light as always.
    Ryan