Spectacular New Site Makes Helping Local Businesses Easy

For the past few days — as the rippling cascading effects of COVID-19 on the local economy have become apparent and frightening — many Westporters suggested ways to help.

One of the best is to purchase gift cards from local stores, restaurants, salons, gyms and the like.

A group of friends approached Danielle Dobin with the idea. She loved it. Like the others though, she wondered: Who needs help? How can I contact them? Who even sells gift cards?

Danielle — who in her spare time chairs Westport’s Planning & Zoning Commission — brainstormed with them. Their solution : a website showcasing all the spots in town that need help, with clickable links to every one.

James Dobin-Smith

Then her family and theirs — the Weilguses, Kamos, Cammeyers, and the Posts and Rutsteins (you know those last 2 from the WestportMoms.com platform) — got to work.

Over the past few days they tracked down dozens of local stores, restaurants and service providers. They compiled tons of information.

And they handed it all to Danielle’s son James Dobin-Smith.

The Staples High School freshman is a member of Staples Players. He’s an honor student, keenly interested in world affairs. But he had absolutely no background in web design.

No problem! He’s smart, creative, and a digital native. Almost instantly, James taught himself.

The result — rolled out just moments ago — is OneWestport.com. It’s visually appealing, chock full of links, and insanely easy to use.

The homepage of OneWestport.com.

All you do is click to purchase gift cards online (or by phone or email, if no online option exists). You can use them tomorrow, or months from now. (One added feature: the hyperlinks take you directly to the gift card page. It’s truly one click — you don’t have to search for it yourself on a business website.)

From sporting goods to sushi, furniture to flowers, paintings to pasta, and clothing to cupcakes, Westport retailers sell everything and anything.

Nearly 200 places are listed, by category: Clothing/Jewelry, Fitness, Salons, Nails/Spas, Miscellaneous (Compo Flowers, Earth Animal, Age of Reason, Rockwell Art, Splatterbox, Stiles Market, The Toy Post, Westport Hardware, Bungalow, photographers).

Age of Reason is a great place to use a gift card right now. Kids need items for education and entertainment. And the store offers free delivery.

The Restaurants category can keep you busy (and well-fed) until this crisis is over — no matter how long it lasts. It includes places you might not otherwise think of, like Aartisan Chocolates and The Cake Box.

(It’s also a great way to order takeout or delivered meals, from those restaurants, delis and markets that offer them.)

“Purchase a gift card today for use in the future to purchase a birthday gift, an anniversary gift, or simply an everyday purchase for your family,” OneWestport suggests.

“Our local retailers need to make payroll, cover their expenses, and pay rent.  Buying gift cards now for use later can help our local businesses manage this near-term cash-crunch and ultimately weather this uniquely challenging storm! Together, we can make the difference for our local retailers!”

As extensive as the families’ work has been, they know it’s not complete. They’ll update the website daily, until school restarts. To add a business to the resource, email jamesdobinsmith@gmail.com.

This is these Westporters’ gift to the town. OneWestport does not profit from any purchases, in any way. All gift cards go straight — and fully — to the retailer, restaurant or service provider.

It’s the gift that will keep on giving. And helping save our town.

Oh, yeah: If you liked the awesome cover photo — a drone shot of downtown by John Videler — you can purchase it (or any of his work too). Just click here!

32 responses to “Spectacular New Site Makes Helping Local Businesses Easy

  1. Cathy Kim Walker

    Hi Dan – an amazing resource! Dan, note that the URL is onewestport.com (not westportone.com – that goes to a recruiting agency). Warmly, Cathy


  2. Buffy Strober

    The hyperlink brings you to incorrect site!!!!!


    • Hi Buffy — no, the clickable hyperlink works. I had it correct (OneWestport.com) everywhere except the caption, which has been fixed. Please try again by clicking the link in the story above!

  3. Let me make two suggestions. First, everyone who’s working from home and getting paid, order out one more meal every week than you usually do to help support hourly restaurant workers who have to work to get paid — and who need everyone’s business to stay employed.

    Second — for those who purchase monthly MetroNorth tickets, take some of your savings and donate it to charities whose work may be expanding between now and when we get to the “new normal.”

  4. Amanda Rauch Thaw

    That is awesome!!

  5. this is a fantastic idea, but please only buy gift cards directly from the retailer and not the ones at stop and shop or cvs, etc. the revenue from those cards is captured by two very large companies which not only get a large percentage of the cost of the card, but the retailer does not see any revenue until the card is redeemed.

  6. Erica Acheychek

    Such a wonderful idea. Amazing job!

  7. What great website! Calise’s is open too! Dry goods as well as meals to go. Curbside service + delivery! Give us a call 203.227.3257 Stay well!!

    • Danielle Dobin

      I’m so sorry for the oversight! We love Calise’s. James will add you first thing when he takes a break from “distance learning”.

      • Sandra Calise Cenatiempo

        Danielle, No need to apologize! Thank you so much for adding us! The website is brilliant and it’s so beautiful! And thanks to James! He rocks!!

        • Danielle Dobin

          Careful – in a few weeks time, he’ll be come in looking for one of your amazing sandwiches! Take care!

  8. Nicole Klein

    FABULOUS! Thank you ALL 🙏

  9. thanks Dan; you rock as always!!

  10. This is a fantastic idea, kudos ! So many great people in our town, let’s make this an opportunity to express love and gratitude.

  11. Andrea Davitt

    I am so inspired by the people in our community who have stepped up to help those in need during this scary time! As Mr. Rogers used to say, in times of crisis, look for the helpers! Thank you to James Dobin-Smith and all of the other “helpers” who are doing good deeds. It’s so important that we pull together (albeit from a distance) to get through this difficult time.

  12. Mark Bachmann

    This a great idea quickly supported by an engaging website. For a high school student with no web-design experience, James has done a remarkable job. Thanks to everyone involved in this effort.

  13. Mary Hoffman

    Stiles Market 203-222-1229 and Superior Seafood 203-557-0844, located together at 1001 Post Rd E Westport, are open and everything is fresh and made onsite. They are the nicest people.

  14. Nancie Rinaldi

    This is just.. fabulous!! Thank you to the wonderful people who pulled this together and to you Dan for sharing.

  15. Claudia Shaum

    This is outstanding. Starting tomorrow, my family is committing to at least 3 delivery/take out meals a week . Westport will bounce back faster and stronger in the end if we help all our local businesses manage through this insane time.

  16. Louise Tolmie

    Well done, James, for putting this together!

  17. Kirstina Spadone

    This is great! We should have this in Fairfield, too. James may have started a movement!

  18. Wow! Thank you for sharing some positive news. Kudos to all – especially James Dobin-Smith for his dedication and can-do attitude!

  19. Christie Stanger

    Danielle is an amazing, generous, and thoughtful human. She’s passed these traits onto James (aka Thing 2)!!!

  20. Fantastic job James! Such a great idea and “thing.”

  21. This is such a great idea – I love creative, innovative thinking like this! ❤️ We should have this in Fairfield, too! Thank you James Dobin-Smith! 😊

  22. Pam Foarde (pjfoarde@optonline.net) – This is such a great idea – I love creative, innovative thinking like this! ❤️ We should have this in Fairfield, too! Thank you James Dobin-Smith! 😊

  23. Fantastic! Way to go Danielle, James, and everyone else who has a hand in brining this to life! Bravo!!!

  24. This is amazing !! I would ove to find a way to add the Westport Tennis club (family owned) how do I go about doing this? Thanks!!

  25. Janet Wasserman

    This story made the National News on The Five, Fox News channel‼️

    Sent from Yahoo Mail for iPad

  26. I ❤️ Westport! This is a great idea!