Category Archives: Local business

Unsung Hero #16

A couple of Sundays ago, Julie Gannon was canning tomatoes.

Hours later — at 6 p.m. — she had 18 jars lined up. They were sterilized, prepped — but she had run out of tomatoes.

She texted Lloyd Allen. The owner of Double L Market quickly replied. He had 2 boxes left. She could pick them up the next day.

Immediately though, he texted back again. He wanted to know if Julie was in the middle of canning.

When she said yes, Lloyd said he knew what that was like. He offered to drive to the store from Wilton, and open up.

At 7 p.m. he was there — with a huge smile.

Lloyd Allen, with his familiar smile.

Over and over, she thanked him profusely. Each time, Lloyd said he was glad to help.

“He’s always so positive and helpful,” Julie says of the popular farm stand owner.

“He has amazing products, and homemade soups, sauces and tamales. When you shop at Double L, you always feel like you’re dealing with a friend.

“Lloyd always tries to help in any way he can. That’s special and rare. I love Lloyd!”

“06880” does too. That’s why Lloyd Allen is this week’s Unsung Hero!

(To nominate an unsung hero, email dwoog@optonline.net)

Lloyd Allen, outside his Double L Market on the Post Road.

Westport Favorite Is Farmer Of The Year

The Westport Farmers’ Market is proud of its many vendors. They sell honey, ice cream, tamales and pizza, along with the usual (and delicious) fruits, vegetables and meats.

Today they’re particularly proud of one.

Patti Popp has just been named 2017 Farmer of the Year.

That’s not some silly online poll. The honor comes from the Farmers’ Almanac and the American Farm Bureau Federation.

Popp is one of 3 outstanding farmers or ranchers throughout the country — and the only woman. All were chosen for their support of the farming tradition; innovation in agriculture; community involvement, and inspiration as an agricultural leader.

Popp grows produce, and raises chickens and pigs, at Sport Hill Farm in Easton. She operates a community-supported agriculture program, and a retail store sellling locally grown and crafted goods.

Patti Popp and friends.

In the summer Sport Hill Farm sponsors a children’s camp. She hosts other events throughout the year, including farm-to-table dinners and workshops.

Popp calls herself an “accidental farmer.” In 2000 she and her husband purchased a home with enough property to grow vegetables and raise chickens.

They learned to farm by trial and error — reading books, and asking questions of other farmers.

Westport Farmers’ Market director Lori Cochran-Dougall says, “Not only does Patti grow some of the choicest food in the area, she gives of herself to the community in an unparalleled way.

“We always count on Patti to dig in when we need anything — from offering fresh food, to partnering with local chefs, to volunteering for events that help folks make a connection between the farm and our food system.”

You can see the national Farmer of the Year at the Westport market on Imperial Avenue every Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., now through November 9.

Pop Go The Photos

Michael Friedman has done a lot in his 73 years.

The Staples High School Class of 1961 graduate produced “Hello, It’s Me.” He managed Todd Rundgren and Kris Kristofferson — as well as (with Albert Grossman) the careers of Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, The Band, Odetta, and Peter Paul & Mary. He did publicity for the Dave Clark 5 and Herman’s Hermits.

He sold Americana and folk art. He also owned the Ash Creek Saloons in Fairfield and Norwalk, along with Darien’s Goose restaurant.

With such varied careers — and so much going on — he could be forgiven for losing the negatives of photos he took nearly 50 years ago.

Of course, they were not random snapshots of the Friedman family at the beach, or their naked newborn in a bathtub.

These were up close, personal — and superb — shots of some of the biggest names in the music world.

Mick Jagger (Photo copyright Michael Friedman)

The Stones. Janis Joplin. The Band. Johnny  Winter. Gordon Lightfoot. James Cotton. Ian and Sylvia. Rita Coolidge. All are artists Friedman worked with in the 1960s.

Last January, his wife Donna stumbled upon them. Friedman spent the next several months printing, restoring and mounting the photos.

Soon, they’ll head to the California Heritage Museum in Los Angeles.

Janis Joplin (Photo copyright Michael Friedman)

But right now, they’re part of a pop-up gallery in Bedford Square. Friedman’s taken over an appropriately scruffy, unfinished space opposite the Spotted Horse. Dozens of images are on display there — and for sale.

Michael Friedman in his pop-up gallery. His photo shows Levon Helm, legendary drummer for The Band.

There’s been no publicity. Yet plenty of folks discovered the intriguing gallery during last weekend’s Blues, Views & BBQ Festival. The word is getting out.

But remember: This is a pop-up place. Soon, the photos will be gone.

At least this time Friedman will know where they went.

Slicing Up Saugatuck

The 6th annual Slice of Saugatuck was the best yet.

Perfect late-summer weather; a record number of 50-plus restaurants and businesses, and a large, relaxed crowd enjoyed an afternoon of strolling, eating, music, eating, shopping, eating, kids’ activities, and eating.

Thanks go to the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce, plus the Slice’s many sponsors.

And congrats to the Gillespie Food Pantry: recipient of some of today’s funds.

Here’s what the Slice looked like, starting and ending at Bridge Square:

Owner Bill Taibe (right) and his Kawa Ni staff served Japanese delicacies (and drinks).

Firefighters at the Saugatuck station promoted fire safety (and offered a seat in their very cool truck).

The Whelk offered some delicacies …

… while a few feet away on the riverfront plaza, the Silver Steel Band played.

Matt Storch dished out fries. The Staples High School graduate’s new Match Burger Lobster restaurant opens in 2 weeks.

Socks — a face painter — came from Norwalk.

The Funicello family’s Tutti’s is always a Slice of Saugatuck favorite.

Mersene — owner of the very popular Indulge by Mersene — welcomed Railroad Place Slice-goers with her typically funky goods.

Every kid loves a bounce house.

A tae kwan do place lured passersby with this inflatable guy.

The Slice included Saugatuck Avenue too. Here’s the mouth-watering scene at Dunville’s.

All roads led to the Slice of Saugatuck. If you’re reading this before 5 p.m. — there’s still time. After 5, several restaurants extend the fun with specially priced menus.

Here’s How To Help

It’s a beautiful weekend in Westport. We’ve got the Slice of Saugatuck and Westport Country Playhouse gala to look forward to — along with the usual beach and sports activities, plus everything else under the sun.

Elsewhere in the hemisphere, people are hurting.

“Give a Little Love” with these chocolates — and help hurricane victims.

Here are a few ways Westporters can aid victims of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. If you know other ways to help — including those affected by the Mexican earthquake — click “Comments” below.

Aarti Khosla, owner of Le Rouge — the artisan chocolate shop at 190 Main Street — is donating 50% of the proceeds from her ongoing “Give a Little Love” handmade hearts campaign to OneAmericaAppeal.

That’s the effort by all 5 living former ex-presidents — Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter — to provide aid to Houston.

Dolores Catania

On Sunday, September 17 (5 to 7 p.m., Terrain Garden Cafe, 561 Post Road East), Dolores Catania from “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” and Angela Pantalone, owner of the Wag Central indoor dog facility, will talk about how they took life challenges and made their own empires.

The event raises money for Harvey and Irma victims. Click here for ticket information.

PS: Le Rouge also has 40 “Hate Has No Home” here yard signs. Pick yours up now!

Joseph Oyebog Serves Tennis

Joseph Oyebog — former Davis Cup tennis player and Cameroon national champion — is a beloved local tennis coach.

The youngest of 6 children, he learned the sport using a racquet made of discarded wood, using tennis balls found in the tall grass outside a club in his home country.

Joseph Oyebog

Since 1999, while teaching tennis in the US, he has forged relationships between the Cameroon government, club owners and American supporters. His Oyebog Tennis Academy in Africa has taught tennis to thousands of youngsters. Twenty have earned college scholarships, or obtained coaching positions in the US and Europe.

Now a US citizen, Oyebog continues to help. For nearly 2 decades he has traveled between his homeland and his adopted nation. Nearly every penny he earns goes into his foundation.

His dream is to build a school around the tennis academy. He wants to hire teachers, and bring hope and jobs to children who grow up with very little.

Right now, the garages of 6 Westport families are filled with tennis gear and donations for children in Cameroon. But Oyebog’s OTA non-profit has run out of funds to ship the goods overseas.

Oyebog’s Westport friends hope to keep his dream alive. They’ve started a GoFundMe campaign.

They know there are many worthy causes that “06880” readers donate to.

But they also know that plenty of readers play tennis, and understand the power of sport to improve lives.

Game on!

(Click here for more information on the GoFundMe campaign, or to contribute.)

Party Harty Parties On

In 1989, Sue Marshall opened a store across from what was then Grand Union.

For nearly 3 decades, Party Harty has been a hearty part of Westport’s business scene.

Marshall had spent 11 years in the fashion industry. But with 2 young daughters — ages 4 and 2 — she wanted to work closer to home.

Owning a retail store is hardly a party. But Marshall attracted loyal customers with a great mix of balloons, decorations, paper goods, candy, candles, pinatas, face make-up, wigs, custom party favors and invitations.

Before Halloween last year, a Party Harty customer posed with the Haunted Tree Man.

A key to success was customized service. You may not have known what you needed to make your graduation/anniversary/birthday/Halloween/bar mitzvah/prom-posal etc. celebration a success. Thankfully, Marshall and her hardly party-pooping staff did.

Jackie Marshall began working for her mom while still in college. She fell in love with the business. She’s still there.

But starting tomorrow (Tuesday, September 5), the Marshalls and their crack staff will be working a few doors down. Party Harty found a great location a few doors down. The new address is 578 Post Road East — next to BodyQuest, across from Terrain.

The Marshalls are placing a new emphasis on gift buying. There are Westport-themed items, and presents for every occasion.

Some of Party Harty’s Westport-themed gifts.

Party Harty invites everyone to celebrate their new home on Tuesday. They’re serving snacks, and offering tours of their new home.

In other words: It’s a party!

Jackie and Sue Marshall, in front of Party Harty’s new location.

GoKid! Get This Carpool App!

Like many New Yorkers, Stefanie Lemcke started looking outside the city for schools for her children.

She and her husband took day trips here. When they realized “wow, people actually live in Westport!” they made the move.

Like many new arrivals, she loved the town. And — like many — she had to adapt to becoming a chauffeur. “No one told me I’d do so much driving!” she says.

Like no one else, however, she turned that mind-numbing chore into a flourishing business.

Stefanie Lemcke

On the Upper West Side, Lemcke walked her kids to school. Here, she had to learn to navigate carpools. Emails, Excel spreadsheets, texts — there had to be a better way.

Having worked for years with companies like Uber and Lyft, she thought instinctively of an online platform. She had not been involved on the tech side, but she became “obsessed” — her word — with her idea.

Her solution: a secure website that allows families to connect easily with others in their school, and identify carpool opportunities. She called it GoKid.

Lemcke hired 2 freelancers in California to write the initial code.

Techstars — a Detroit-based startup accelerator — accepted GoKid. That helped her raise over $1 million in funding.

She hired the best people she could find — wherever she found them. Lemcke’s team includes 3 developers in New York; 3 Argentines; a London COO, and one guy who travels in a truck.

Despite very little marketing, growth as been explosive. Over 50,000 carpools have been organized, in more than 25 countries.

But GoKid — which works on a desktop, smartphone and other devices — is very much a Westport company. Its official address is here, and visitors to the site see photos taken all around town.

Many of GoKid’s promotional photos were shot in Westport. This scene is at Staples High School.

GoKid fills a clear need. For budget and other reasons — one bus route averages $37,000 a year — over 50% of all school districts no longer use buses, Lemcke says. In California, just 17% do.

Of course, Lemcke notes, “Kids still have to get to school” — and their many other activities. GoKid allows users to organize carpools by neighborhood, grade, even kids’ interests. It’s a way to find trusted drivers beyond a small group of friends.

Last week, GoKid rolled out advanced features, like “recent participant” and “recent location”; the ability to set up return carpools with different participants, and customized alerts and notifications. It’s now available on Android devices. And it’s making its first marketing push.

The screenshot on the left shows text messages regardiing a carpool event. The one on the right shows a carpool map.

Lemcke knows the carpooling problem first hand. She lives on North Avenue — a few feet from Staples High and Bedford Middle schools. “Everyone drives their kids, even though we have buses,” she notes.

But the founder of an app that makes carpooling easier is not convinced that’s the only solution in her home town.

“It would be nice to create an initiative here around walking and biking,” she says.

“This is a progressive community, with great schools. But we’re backward when it comes to transportation.”

Of course, parents will continue to drive their children. That’s a fact of Westport life.

“Given the traffic and congestion, we welcome the opportunity to work with  Westport schools to help parents save time and reduce traffic,” Lemcke notes.

(For more information about GoKid, click here.)

 

Suited’s Sale Helps Houston

For 3 years, Ryan Meserole’s Suited.co custom shop across from the train station has dressed men well — and given back to Fairfield County.

Now it’s time to help Texas.

In 2012 Ryan’s aunt Rosemary Duffy lost her Brooklyn home — and everything else — Hurricane Sandy.

She moved to Houston. Now she’s going through it all again.

The timing could not be worse. Less than a month ago, Rosemary lost her brother-in-law — firefighter Michael Duffy — to cancer linked to 9/11.

Despite it all, she was most concerned for others, Ryan reports.

“I’m still a Brooklyn boy at heart,” he says. “I was fortunate to move here later in life. Despite what people say about New Yorkers, we love to help.”

So here’s his offer: Anyone who donates $100 or more to Red Cross Harvey relief will receive a 50% discount at Suited. It’s good for any fabric and shirt.

In other words: You can snag a custom suit for as little as $650 this weekend.

Ryan will even set up a laptop in his store, for easy access to the Red Cross website.

If you’ve already donated to the Red Cross for Hurricane Harvey, just bring in your confirmation. You’ll still get his discount.

Suited.co is at 44 Railroad Place. For more information, click here.

 

Like A Good Neighbor, Westport Wash & Wax Is There

It’s a Westport tradition: getting your car clean at Westport Wash & Wax.

Everyone does it. And while they wait, everyone reads the many notes of thanks tacked to the bulletin board. Every organization in town, it seems, benefits from owner Scott and Laila Tiefenthaler’s generosity.

One of the most grateful recipients is Homes With Hope. Over the past 16 years, the local housing service has received more than $80,000 from the car wash.

Tomorrow (Friday, September 1), Westport Wash & Wax holds its 17th annual Good Neighbor Day. Once again, 100% of the proceeds — all day — go to Homes With Hope.

“For nothing more than the cost of a car wash, you can help end homelessness,” says CEO Jeff Wieser.

Thanks, Westport Wash & Wax, for your continued generosity, and commitment to our town!

Westport Wash & Wax is very generous — and very, very good!