John Dodig: “Forget The Malls. Shop Locally!”

For years, John Dodig and his husband Rodger have done their holiday shopping on Amazon. That often means gift cards for their many children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, siblings and friends.

This year — with memories of years gone by — they headed to a mall. But after 2 hours in Trumbull, they’d found exactly 2 gifts.

Depressed, they left.

Driving home, they decided to try downtown Westport. They parked in the Baldwin Lot behind Brooks Brothers, and headed to Church Lane.

On a whim, they walked into Savannah Bee Company. The manager greeted them warmly.

John and Rodger learned about bees, honey, sustaining the environment, and the store’s strong support for the community. They also found several perfect gifts.

The bright interior of Savannah Bee Company.

They put them in their car, then browsed more stores in Bedford Square and on Main Street.

“We found something for everyone on our list — and had a great time shopping,” says John, who retired in 2015 after 11 years as Staples High School’s well-respected principal.

“Everyone in every store went out of their way to be helpful. They were beyond friendly.”

John and Rodger finished their shopping, feeling like “supportive and thankful Westporters.”

John’s advice: “Forget the malls. Shop locally! Our shop owners need our support. And they provide everything we need during this gift-giving season.”

9 responses to “John Dodig: “Forget The Malls. Shop Locally!”

  1. There are so many wonderful, helpful merchants downtown that can provide personalized service and unique gifts. I hope many people take advantage!

  2. Agreed, Randy. On a whim, I stopped into Savvy & Grace. Not only did I find a couple of cool & unique gifts, but I spent 20mins chatting with Annette, the owner about life, kids, the challenges of high school, the store, family vacations… The best part was the amazing gift wrapping. So much time and effort put into making the gifts look amazing. Cant wait for Christmas morning.

  3. September Stevens

    I had almost the same experience. Bombed at the mall. The ladies at Paper Source we’re so helpful and fun. Got a great holiday recipe from one of them while I was checking out and the library pop up store is filled with great teacher gifts!! Love local!

  4. After Mr Dodig retired we had a joke in our house WWDD- What would Dodig Do…. Guess we know the definitive answer to at least one question. We will shop downtown!

  5. Kristin Schneeman

    I couldn’t agree more! I was in Savannah Bee last night and enjoyed the experience as much as the gifts I bought. The Westport Library pop-up store next door is fabulous (found more unique items there). Savvy & Grace is a favorite gift destination as well, and they do the most beautiful wrapping. And there are plenty of “mall stores” for those who want or need them! Plus you get to stop for a nosh at yummy places like a Rye Ridge, Spotted Horse, Amis and more — way better than the food court at the mall. Get thee downtown to finish thy holiday shopping!

  6. I agree the brownstone and savy and grace I shops all the time and great suit maker downtown and and lot great shops I ask all westporters please come downtown and shop make it fun

  7. Tom Duquette, SHS '75

    This is what Westport used to be. Back in the 60’s & 70’s shopping downtown you could find everything. Klein’s, Remarkable Book Shop, Aspasia, Ed Mitchell’s, Carousel House of Toys and many more. Always a fun time that put you in the holiday spirit.

  8. Jim Honeycuttof

    I completely support local businesses in both Westport and Fairfield where I live. It is tough running a small business as so many store owners do in the world of home shopping and Amazon. But I do wish John and his husband had stopped by the Apple Store in Trumbull. Working there since retiring from teaching media at Staples and 40 years in Westport schools, I bet I could have found something wonderful gift ideas like AirPods, maybe even a HomePod or Apple Music. But Dan I do wish Apple had opened an Apple Store in the old Nike store on Main Street in Westport. It will be interesting to see what Apple does with that new upscale Norwalk mall down by exit 14 on I-95.

  9. I love this piece and thank you Dan for posting! There are so many wonderful shops in downtown, and you can absolutely find all of your gifts here! Annette at Savvy and Grace and Julie from Savannah Bee are both a joy to chat with, as are the many owners and employees in so many of the shops downtown including The Brownstone, Barbour, Fred Shop, Lucy’s, Kerri Rosenthal, Bespoke Designs, Pink Lemon Blue Lime, Lucy’s, Organachs Farm to Skin, Noya Fine Jewelry, Faye Kim Designs, LeRouge Chocolates, Athleta, Blue Mercury, Lou & Grey, West, Cotelac, Dovecote and so many more! We are so lucky to have all these unique shops at our disposal and thank you John Dodig for reminding everyone how wonderful our downtown is.