Friday Flashback #354

Main Street today looks much the same as it did over 40 years ago.

The architecture, anyway.

But — as Susan Garment’s undated (but late ’70s/early ’80s-looking) photo shows — the retail environment is very different.

The 4 stores shown here — Sport Mart, an unidentified one next to it, Waldenbooks and Dorain’s Pharmacy — are all long gone.

Sport Mart started out in Sconset Square (then called Sherwood Square) in the 1950s. It moved to Main Street, where it expanded to the 2nd floor. Dan Coughlin’s shop was the go-to place for tennis and ski gear. (Westport’s other sports store, Schaefer’s on Main Street, specialized in shoes, baseball gloves and the like.)

Waldenbooks was one of 3 book stores on Main Street in that era. Remarkable Book Shop was midway through its 30-year run on the corner by Parker Harding Plaza (more recently Talbots and then Local to Market). Across the street from Remarkable sat Atticus Bookstore Café (an affiliate of the New Haven original).

Waldenbooks was Westport’s first chain bookstore. (They declared bankruptcy in 2011, long after the Main Street spot closed.) It was supplanted by Barnes & Noble, which opened first on the Post Road where BevMax is now. Its second, larger location was a bit further west, in the old Waldbaum’s supermarket. (Waldbaum’s declared bankruptcy in 2015.) Barnes & Noble is now located in a smaller space on the Post Road — the longtime Fine Arts Theater (and later, Restoration Hardware).

As for Dorain’s: For decades, it was a family owned drug store. (One of 2 downtown; Achorn’s was up the street, near — briefly — Atticus.) When the business sold, it became Westport’s CVS. They soon outgrew the space, and moved to Compo Shopping Center, into the former McLellan’s.

But not everything has changed. The shop in between Sport Mart and Waldenbooks looks like a women’s clothing store.

I’m just sayin’…

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25 responses to “Friday Flashback #354

  1. Andrew Colabella

    The Cadillac fleetwood brougham 😍

  2. Gloria Gouveia


  3. Did CVS actually take over the Dorain’s? My after school job 1978-79 was in the CVS at 65 Main Street, and the two stores were definitely co-existing, at least at that time. I referred several shoppers to Dorain’s for the pharmacy and items not found in our store.

  4. Shannon Nordlinger

    Was the clothing store called Narraganset, maybe?

  5. Deb Howland-Murray

    My mom had a charge account at Dorain’s. When I was about 6, she told me I could go to Dorain’s and charge an ice cream bar while she shopped. I took the bar, told the cashier to charge it, and went happily on my way. That night, my mom got a call asking if the little girl who wanted to charge an ice cream was her daughter. Westport was a small town then, with a small town’s knowlege of its residents.

    • brad french

      David Shaw owned Dorain’s. Great guy. I took care of his property on East Ferry.

      • John McCarthy

        I cut Mr. Shaw’s lawn for a few summers. We lived next door to him and a sister and brother worked at Dorians.

  6. Peter Barlow

    Dorain’s Drugstore was in the same spot on Main St. since the 1930s, maybe before. Next door was Neary’s Electric which sold the first phonograph records in town – 10 inch 78s. My first record was called, “In An Old Dutch Garden.”

    • Peter Barlow

      Achorns’ at this time was on the Post Road opposite the original library in the building that later burned down.

    • Fred Cantor

      Peter, I can still remember—and still have—the first record I bought: “Bristol Stomp” by the Dovells.

      Re bookstores on Main Street: so Klein’s maintained a book department during this time? If so, that would have meant four book sellers in competition with one another on Main Street. Did we have more readers/book buyers back then or did any of the newer outlets possibly overestimate the market? Of course, this was long before Amazon so maybe there was enough of a local marketplace for this.

      • brad french

        Martha Stewart would complain to Stanley Klein that he wouldn’t display her book in the front window display. He was not a fan.

  7. Sarah Sieber

    And who remembers Pitkin’s which pre-dated The Remarkable in the same space at the top of Main St.?

  8. Ann Bacharach

    Didn’t Klein’s also sell books?

  9. Tom Duquette, SHS '75

    Klein’s definitely sold books and had an excellent selection, they had a great record department and a darned good toy store in the back. Sport Mart did a wonderful job stringing my tennis racquets back in the 70’s.

  10. Eric Buchroeder

    Sport Mart used to have a great gun department when they were in Sherwood Square.

  11. Bonnie Scott Connolly

    I worked at the Sport Mart one Christmas break. That was the first time I saw Paul Newman in person when he came in as a customer. Of course Dan waited on Mr. Newman, not any of us kids..

    • Eric Buchroeder

      I worked at the hardware store in Weston Center summer of ‘75 as a fill in between college and career. Paul was in and out all the time and I remember waiting on him. One time he was shirtless and covered with dirt and I looked him straight in the eye from across the narrow counter we were not more than 24” apart nose to nose. What I really liked about him was his totally unassuming casual nature. He was just living a normal life. My guess is he was about 50 at the time.

  12. Sam Febbraio

    Sport Mart, like the rest of Main Street, was great back when! Source of my Wilson T-2000 (wish I had kept it), and finally saved-up for a brand new set of K2 skis and Nordica boots – circa ‘73/‘74. Pretty sure I also got ahold of the blue version of the ski sweater in that window. Boomers had a lot to be thankful for in Westport – but even if it were only for having Sally at Klein’s, it would have been enough.

  13. Does nobody remember Colgan’s, at the corner of Taylor Place and State Street, in the 50s and 60s, I believe.

  14. Linda Pomerantz Novis

    Agree with Sam Febbraio’s last sentence. :-)..’having Sally,at Klein’s’ ,and later on, her own ‘Place’..she Truly one of Westport’s treasures.To this day,I still Smile ,remembering many great conversations with hereabout Music and Life.:-)

  15. About 10 years ago, my aunt, Susan Malloy, made this map of Main Street in 1960, based on her memories and the phone book…I think a lot of us remember it that way…

  16. Susan Garment

    I also remember Greenberg’s Clothing store with rickety wood floors, Selective Eye and a grocery store on Main Street. I worked at Isabel Eland’s a lingerie store in the early 70’s that was also on Main Street. Most of the stores were “mom and pop.”

  17. John Kelley

    Louis Engle had a second floor shop on Main Sreet where he sold collectable coins. In the 60s, it was still possible to get a complete Lincoln penny set from 1909 onward just from circulating coins (save for a 1909-S VDB, the scarcest Lincoln penny). You could by common indian head pennies for 35 cents.