Category Archives: Local business

Pic Of The Day #970

“Sweet” moon over the Saugatuck (Photo/Judy Auber Jahnel)

BD Provisions: Saving The Earth, In Bulk

The average American produces 4 1/2 pounds of trash a day. With 28,000 residents in Westport, that’s 45 million pounds of trash per year. It’s probably tons more, of course; we are not exactly “average” Americans.

BD Provisions has a modest goal: get 5% of Westporters to cut their waste by 5%. That’s still over 100,000 pounds of waste diverted from landfill.

So what’s BD Provisions, and how will they do it?

It’s 2 stores: one in Fairfield’s Brickwalk, the other in Newtown. They call themselves “a carefully curated collection of bulk foods sold by the pound in sustainable containers.”

BD carries everything from basic pantry staples to trendy superfoods. There are over 300 items in all: pastas, rice, cereals, bulk teas, spices, grains, snacks, baking ingredients, nuts, candies, chocolates and more. Everything is sold by weight.

Bins and tins at BD Provisions …

Artisan olive oils, balsamic vinegar and local honey is always on tap. They also roast coffee, so you can take your beans home while they’re warm.

You know that satisfaction you get when you scoop the candy at Fresh Market, and get just what you need? That’s the feeling at BD — except you do it throughout the entire store.

Biodegradable and compostable packaging options further ease the environmental impact. The store encourages shoppers to bring their own bags — even canning jars — from home. (You can also buy them there, to reuse over and over.)

… and shelf after shelf of herbs.

BD Provisions is the brainchild of Westporter Tara DiPippa and her husband Tony, and John and Cynthia Boccuzzi. The DiPippas would love to open another location in their hometown.

Until then, they’re connected to Westport by donating 100% of their hot coffee sales all month long to the Gillespie Center.

Sure, it takes a bit more gas to get to the Brickwalk than a store here — for some Westporters, anyway.

But think of all that waste you’re not creating. We’ll get to that 100,000 pounds per year goal — one coffee bean, oat and nut at a time.

Field Trip For Chickpea Butter

Tom Donigan’s kids can’t bring peanut butter sandwiches (or any nut butters) to school. They were tired of sunflower seed butter.

So — working in Matt Levey’s kitchen — Donigan developed chickpea butter.

It’s nutty, delicious, and a little sweet.

It’s also the first vegan product line for Field Trip. That’s the jerky company whose world headquarters — and only retail store in the world — is located Westport, on the Post Road opposite Design Within Reach.

The all-natural chickpea butter is available in 3 flavors: classic, cinnamon churro and chai spice.

They’re sold online, in over 10,000 stores nationwide — and at the downtown outlet.

And — because Field Trip calls Westport home — Donigan and Levey are offering “06880” readers 20% off, for stocking stuffers or Hanukkah gifts. Just say “06880” — and enjoy!

Unsung Heroes #127

I’ve had great service at Fetzer Tire — the shop just over the Westport line, in Southport. They’ve gone above and beyond — quickly, efficiently and professionally.

I’m not the only one.

Jessica Bleiman Hill writes:

Just wanted to give a shout-out to Fetzer Tire. They are so honest and lovely. This is the 2nd time I’ve gone to corroborate the “safety issue” our dealership tried to sell me on.

Instead of paying over $1,000, I took my car to Fetzer. They charged me nothing, and told me I have at least 10,000 miles before I need any brake work.

If you are looking for a place for service, definitely check them out.

It shouldn’t be news when a business says “we don’t want your business.”

But of course, it’s the right thing to do.

And it ensures that when we do need someone’s business, they’ll get it.

(To nominate an Unsung Hero, email dwoog@optonline.net)

Bespoke Readiness Outfitter Pops Up Downtown

Reading today’s headlines is not for the faint of heart. Disasters — natural and man-made — are all around.

Westport can seem immune. But Jesse and Sefra Levin know we’re not.

Since graduating from Staples in 2003, they’ve been on a mission: prepare people around the globe to survive. They’ve brought “readiness skills” to the veteran, disaster response and entrepreneurial communities.

Now they’ve popped up in Westport.

Literally.

The twins opened a pop-up shop at 29 Church Lane. Their company — Tactivate — outfits customers with gear, and offers advice and training, for every conceivable emergency. They call themselves “bespoke readiness outfitters.”

The Tactivate pop-up shop, at 29 Church Lane.

According to their website:

From classes on how to pack and use a serious go- bag and medical kit to how to communicate when there is no cell service, we partner with you to devise custom tailored solutions and training experiences delivered by professional first responders and military veterans on and off site.

Tomorrow (Thursday, December 12, 6:30 p.m.), they offer their first event: “Tequilas and Tourniquets.” They call it “paint and sip for bad-assery.”

Suffice it to say, they’ve hacked out a path quite different from most of their classmates.

While still at Staples, Jesse ran a small guerrilla marketing operation, doing X and Gravity Games promotions for SoBe.

Jesse Levin, in Puerto Rico.

He took wilderness survival school courses, and after graduating from Babson College went straight to Panama where he launched a cultural mediation advisory firm (and got his first exposure to disaster response, during floods).

He formed Tactivate in 2010, after working with local populations, the military, government, NGOs and the private sector following the 2010 Haiti earthquake. Most recently, he helped carry out a food and water security project in the aftermath of the Puerto Rico hurricane.

Sefra attended Staples, graduated from Greens Farms Academy and Colorado College, then earned a master’s in agro-ecological education from Cornell University. She built seed banks all over the world, while specializing in designing spaces quickly.

Jesse says that the Westport pop-up store was conceived only last week. Within a couple of days — with help from the Downtown Merchants Association and Bedford Square developer David Waldman, plus his sister’s “wild outfitting skills” — they had a lease and a decorated space.

“We employ the same sort of expediency and operational efficiency required to save lives in disasters to our business ventures,” he explains.

Jesse and Sefra Levin.

He says that his survival school experience — and all that followed — has empowered him. He wants others to experience “the freedom that comes from knowing you can help yourself and others in a very serious situation.”

Disasters can bring out the best in people, he has seen. Now he’ll show Westporters how to be ready for whatever may come.

“We want to expose people to the pleasure and comfort that comes from taking proactive steps to be of better service to others when it counts,” Jesse says.

“We have big storms, the power goes out and things are going boom around us. You can live in fear, react in an uninformed way when something happens and be a liability. Or you can take simple measures to get a little training and acquire a few critical pieces of gear to make you, your family and your business ready to provide for themselves and others in a time of need.”

So there it is: tactical preparedness, pop-up style. You can find it in the heart of downtown, right between the home furnishings of Anthropolgie, and the honey at Savannah Bee.

(For more information on Thursday’s “Tequilas and Tourniquets” event, click here.)

Post Road Real Estate: Tenants Needed!

In June of 2017, alert “06880” reader/Westport Museum of History and Culture house historian Bob Weingarten drove the entire Westport stretch of the Post Road. He counted the number of commercial buildings with either a “For Rent” or “For Sale” sign.

There were 50.

He shared the information on “06880.” It generated 57 comments.

Two years later he did it again. This time there were 65 commercial properties  looking for tenants — 15 more. Many — including 2 former banks, a gas station and several large retail storefronts — were still vacant from 2 years earlier.

The Mobil Self-Serve property next to Barnes & Noble remains vacant.

Once again, Bob’s story touched a nerve. Fifty readers commented.

The 3rd time — a couple of weeks ago — showed another increase. Now, 72 commercial buildings are available for rent or purchase.

Bob says that one bank building was added to the already empty two. Large retail storefronts still not occupied include the old Pier 1,  and XL Clothing building.

The Mobil gas station near Barnes & Noble, and the large garden center near Stop & Shop are still vacant.

Additionally, 2 new commercial buildings near the new Ignazio’s Pizza (just west of Sherwood Diner), with townhouses in the rear, are unoccupied.

Newly constructed — and not yet rented — space at the foot of Long Lots and the Post Road.

Bob is “alarmed” by the number of empty stores adjacent to Fresh Market.

A renovated large office building on Post Road West will start renting in January, for use as co-working and shared offices.

Empty space on Post Road West, just up the hill from Wright Street.

“I don’t understand how we can be told the economy is getting better and better, with the increasing number of available, empty commercial units,” Bob says.

And, he adds, his figures do not include the apartments that may be available across from Greens Farms Elementary School, or the new townhouses near the diner.

“Several empty available commercial spaces are now occupied — but they are relocations from other spaces on the Post Road, filling one spot but leaving another unoccupied,” he notes. These include Sam Slots Coins, Millie Rae’s and Earth Animal.

“What is going on in the Westport commercial economy?” he asks.

Tons of available space near Fresh Market. (Photos/Bob Weingarten)

Pic Of The Day #966

Festive entrance to Anthropologie (Photo/Patricia McMahon)

Restoration Hardware Leaves This Spring

One of the most visible downtown properties will soon have a new look.

Restoration Hardware is closing in April.

Sources say the reason is not poor sales. Rather, the 11,000-square foot spot opposite Anthropologie, a few yards from Main Street, is not in keeping with the current large-format stores (“galleries,” in Restoration-speak) they’ve opened the last few years.

The home furnishings company — I have no idea where “Hardware” comes from — has been on the Post Road for about 20 years. It replaced the Fine Arts I and II movie theaters, which had been there since the early 1900s.

The closure leaves only one Restoration location in Connecticut: Greenwich.

The lines of the old Fine Arts Theater — including the recessed entryway — are still visible at Restoration Hardware.

(Interested in leasing the property? Email david@davidadamrealty.com, or call 203-856-9674.)

Trimming The Angela Trucks Tree

Scores of Westporters turned out yesterday to honor a wonderful Westporter.

And they did it in a very fitting Westport way.

Angela Trucks — who died last month at 69 — was co-chair of the town’s Beautification Committee. She dedicated her local life to making Westport look good. She was particularly involved in the Re-Greening of the Post Road.

So what better place to light a fir tree — symbolizing beauty, warmth and freshness — than on the Post Road?

The tree sits in front of Jesup Hall — Westport’s original Town Hall. It was donated and decorated by Terrain.

The patio was filled with people of all ages. There was music, mulled wine from Rothbard’s, and s’mores courtesy of Amis.

The Westport Downtown Merchants Association contributed ornaments and tags. People wrote loving thoughts of Angela, or other loved ones.

(Photos/Ted Horowitz)

Thanks to all, for this special way to honor Angela’s Re-Greening of the Post Road.

Unsung Heroes #126

The other day, the Women’s Business Development Council honored 11 Connecticut business people with “Women Rising” awards.

Two are from Westport.

Suzanne Vita Palazzo

Suzanne Vita Palazzo — founder and owner of Upper Deck Fitness, in National Hall — has been here for a couple of years. This is her 2nd location (the first is in Stamford).

But she’s quickly become part of the community. Upper Deck has opened its doors for a variety of Post Road West community events, including a Women’s Wellness Day for cancer survivors.

Aarti Khosla has been serving Westport in many ways too, since 2012.

With a background in economics and international marketing, she worked for international corporations. Aarti opened her first company in her native India in 1991, then started a second business after coming to the US 3 years later.

Born with “foodie genes” and blessed with a mom who was an amazing cook, Aarti followed her passion to become an artisan chocolatier. Her initial inspiration came from a desire to use chocolate to showcase the rich diversity of Indian desserts, and “capture flavors from around the world, in the divine language of chocolate.”

She launched her business in 2012, selling through farmer’s markets, shows and holiday boutiques. In 2014 she opened Le Rouge Chocolates by Aarti at 190 Main Street.

Each piece of chocolate is made with fresh, top quality ingredients, and meticulously hand painted.

Aarti Khosla, in her red-and-black-themed chocolate shop.

She fills a great niche. She has been voted Best Chocolate Shop of Westport each year since, and Best of Gold Coast twice. She ships her creations all over the world.

But it’s in Westport that Aarti has really made her mark. She runs frequent promotions, earmarking a portion of sales to local and international causes — humanitarian, social justice and women’s issues, among them.

Westport is blessed with many female business owners. Today, “06880” follows the Women’s Business Development Council in hailing 2 special ones.

(To nominate an Unsung Hero, email dwoog@optonline.net)