Category Archives: Local business

Main Street Business Floats Away

More than 4 years ago, David Conneely made a life-changing decision. He moved from Brooklyn to Westport, to own and operate iFloat.

The Boston-area native did not know anyone here. He had never owned a business. But he loved floating — a method of reducing stress and feeling relaxed, using warm salt water in a quiet place — and wanted to make a difference in people’s lives.

He put his life into his business, on the 2nd floor of Main Street above Oscar’s. He educated people about the benefits of floating. He hosted events that enhance mind-body connections. He solved his own problems, like retail neighbors playing loud, pulsing music.

“It’s been quite a ride — a lot of blood, sweat, and tears,” David says.

“But I look back and see a positive impact on people’s lives as a result of what I have done here. I’ve made a difference, developed friendships, a community, people whom I love and who love me.”

David Conneely iFloat

Yet just as David helps folks relax and feel better, he’s come to understand himself and his own needs too.

At the end of March, he planned to use his one day off — a Monday — to hang out with a client, who has since become a good friend. But a business issue arose, and he canceled.

Anne told David that she felt his life was unbalanced. As they talked, he realized she was right. He did not have much of a life outside iFloat. He was unhappy.

He said, “If someone walked in and wrote a check for the place, I’d walk away.”

She encouraged him to sell.

One of the iFloat relaxation tanks.

One of the iFloat relaxation tanks.

He started the process. He de-cluttered the place, wrote a valuation document, met with his accountant and friends. It was not easy.

When a suitable arrangement could not be found, he decided to just shut down.

But David could not simply walk away. He stayed open a month longer than he planned — through July 31 — so that people could use any gift certificates or pre-purchased floats they had.

“I’m glad I gave everyone a month’s notice,” he says. “I’ve received a lot of support, by email and in person. It’s been an honor to own and run iFloat. I’m grateful to have met so many wonderful people.”

iFloat logoDavid realizes that he and iFloat have impacted many lives. “I’m happy what I’ve done here,” he says. “And I’m happy to be moving forward.”

David plans to publish a book about floating (it’s almost done). He may go back to teaching high school biology — his previous profession — or do some life coaching or counseling.

He may resettle in Boston or New York. He also looks forward to spending 3 months on an island off Thailand.

Small businesses frequently come and go in Westport. Seldom, though, do they impact so many lives — or leave with such grace and class.

Westport Shows Her True Colors

Severe thunderstorms moved through Westport early this evening.

And then…

Rainbow - July 25, 2016 - David Waldman

(Photo/David Waldman)

(Photos/David Waldman)

(Photo/David Waldman)

(Photo/Robert Mitchell)

(Photo/Robert Mitchell)

Burying Hill Beach - July 25, 2016 - Jessica Isaacs

(Photo/Jessica Isaacs)

Finally, a bit later…

Compo Beach, looking west. (Photo/Andrew Colabella)

Compo Beach, looking west. (Photo/Andrew Colabella)

Cole Dickinson’s Baseball Career Is A Cakewalk

Three years ago, Westport’s all-stars electrified the town with a great run to the Little League World Series championship game.

Among their many fans was Rick Dickinson. A huge baseball fan himself (and former high school state champion), as the owner of Great Cakes Rick knew many of the players. Their parents bought Rick’s great cakes to celebrate birthdays, and Rick chatted with them about their sons’ achievements.

Many of those players and their families — all of Rick’s customers, really — knew his son Cole too. The little kid was there behind the counter during busy times, helping his dad.

Great Cakes closed just a few months after Westport’s World Series thrill.

But Rick is still baking locally — and Cole has turned into a baseball star himself.

Rick Dickinson stands proudly with his son Cole.

Rick Dickinson stands proudly with his son Cole.

The 12-year-old is a 3rd baseman on the New Milford Pride. His team recently won the New England regional championship, and is headed to the Cal Ripken World Series.

It’s set for July 29-August 6, in Aberdeen, Maryland. Cole’s first game is Saturday, July 30 against the Pacific Southwest team, from Hawaii.

(It’s worth noting that in the final inning of the regional final, the score was 9-9. The bases were loaded, with 2 outs. Cole’s hit won it.)

All of Westport — especially those former Little Leaguers — wish Cole and the New Milford Pride good luck at the Cal Ripken World Series.

Win or lose, we’re sure they’ll celebrate their week with plenty of great cakes.

Click here for “06880+”: The easy way to publicize upcoming events, sell items, find or advertise your service, ask questions, etc. It’s the “06880” community bulletin board!

Oh My 06880 — Photo Challenge #82

Okay, I know: Last week’s photo challenge was too easy.

It took Julie Fatherley all of 6 minutes to note that the mannequin dressed in Army fatigues can be found outside the Liberty Army & Navy store. She was followed in rapid succession by Edward Bloch, Leslie Wolf, Matt Murray, Anthony Palmer, Rebecca Wolin, Fred Rubin, Susan Schmidt and Erik Østbye.

Congratulations to all. Sorry if it was too simple. (Click here to see the photo.)

This week’s challenge — courtesy of Patricia McMahon — is very, very cool. Click “Comments” if you know where this photo (from 2 nights ago) was taken.

Oh My 06880 -- July 24, 2016

(Photo/Patricia McMahon)


Long May She Wave

I sure screwed up yesterday’s post about a “missing” AED. (It wasn’t stolen from Winslow Park at all – it had never been installed. I also misidentified the donor — it’s the Gudis Family Foundation and Norwalk Hospital, not the Adam Greenlee Foundation. Click here to see how many times I could be wrong in one post.)

This one is on the money.

A year ago, Tarantino owner John Paul Marchetti installed an American flag outside his Railroad Place restaurant.

He’s a proud Marine Corps Reserves veteran — he served in Iraq — and was honored to fly it 24/7.

Tarantino flag

Yesterday, he and his brothers — co-owners of the popular Saugatuck spot — noticed the flag was gone.

Marchetti was angry. “This country gave my immigrant parents everything,” he said. “The flag is a symbol of freedom. Someone stole that symbol.”

I told Marchetti I would post the story on “06880.” We’d ask the thief to return the flag, no questions asked.

Meanwhile, Marchetti posted a photo on social media.

Westport Hardware Store owner Richie Velez saw it. He promised to bring a replacement over, as soon as he got off work.

So, if you’re the flag thief, do the right thing. Hand it off to someone who can fly it as proudly as Marchetti, and cares as much as Velez.

(Hat tip: Johnny Carrier)

Guess Who Came To Dinner At Bridgewater Tonight?

A) Donald Trump
B) Hillary Clinton
C) Barack Obama
D) The Chinese Olympic swim team



Alert “06880” reader JP Vellotti spotted a truck behind Compo Shopping Center:

(Photo/JP Vellotti)

(Photo/JP Vellotti)

The side of the vehicle offers free summer workouts at New York Sports Club.

“Lucky for members it doesn’t mean loading all the gym equipment into this truck,” JP says.

NYSC closes at the end of the month.

Gym Closes; Beloved Yoga Teacher Goes Too

Alert “06880” reader — and local author — Dalma Heyn writes:

I love yoga. But I don’t love practicing it in gyms—after Zumba classes in meat-market cold rooms with sweat-soaked floors; rooms with no yoga props, but with the sound of heavy metal pumping in tune with those pumping iron.

But then not long ago, into the New York Sports Club in Westport walked a 22-year-old yoga teacher named Julian Arias. Twenty-two! Julian calmly turned off the air-conditioner, and proceeded to show us how to forget we were in a gym not by telling us to forget it, as though it were easy and morally correct to do so by just meditating on warmth,  but by spending an hour with him and witnessing his gentle, knowledgeable, experimental teaching of this ancient practice.

Julian Arias

Julian Arias

Soon his classes grew: Older men with no experience; young women with lots of it; teens, athletes, all came to experience this gifted teacher transform a gym into a studio.  “In the 30years I’ve been doing yoga, I’ve never found someone so in tune,” says Morgaine Pauker. “He’s the best.”

He was trained, as many fine yoga teachers have been, at Kripalu, in Lenox, Massachusetts. But his knowledge of anatomy is extraordinary, so he expertly departs from the familiar so that we feel what the movements were designed to do many thousands of years ago—and to do for us, right now. “I’ve never been in his class when he hasn’t done something new: He taps into places in my body and mind that I was unaware were so tense,” says Eileen Winnick.

His gentle riffs on traditional postures are like those of a jazz musician who knows the melody in his bones but whose soul impels him to explore other ways of expressing it.  We leave, this motley crew of Silver Sneakers and our grandkids, the inflexible and the balletic, athletes and klutzes, feeling wonderful. And also feeling united–which is, after all, what “yoga” means.

“He absolutely has changed my perspective,” says Laurie Vogel. “I live every day in the day—and I’m much more productive.”

Cindy Gates calls him “our therapist.”

It’s clear that our town is losing 2 gems at once: a lovely little gym that was free for many of us of a certain age, and a gifted young man born, as he puts it, to teach yoga.

They Grow Up So Fast These Days!

For the past few years, Westporters have marveled at the ospreys that live between Fresh Market and Terrain.

The proud parents now have 2 youngsters, almost ready to leave their high home.

Earlier today, alert reader — and osprey lover — Jo Ann Davidson took a photo of the entire fine-looking family:

Ospreys - JoAnn Davidson

Farmers’ Market Vendors Grow Food — And Businesses

Westport Farmers’ Market asks a lot of its vendors. In return for space at the Imperial Avenue lot every Thursday from May to November, the nearly 3 dozen sellers of fresh fruits and vegetables, bread, coffee, meat and more must post about the market every week on social media; adhere to certain sign regulations, and participate in the market’s community service programs.

So, director Lori Cochran wondered last year, what was the Farmers’ Market doing to help those vendors?

Looking around, the energetic, forward-thinking director realized that while some businesses like Nothin’ But had shot to the top — thanks to solid financing and a strong business model, the maker of granola bars and cookies now sells in airports and to Whole Foods — others just moseyed along.

“They’re beautiful at creating what they do,” Lori says. “But they don’t have the time or the expertise to really grow.”

Westport Farmers' Market vendors are great at what they do. Director Lori Cochran wants to help them expand.

Westport Farmers’ Market vendors are great at what they do. Director Lori Cochran wants to help them expand.

Lori has a soft spot for mom-and-pop companies. “Our country was founded on them. And they’re still crucial.”

This year, Westport Farmers’ Market rolled out a 3-pronged educational program. Sessions are held at Sugar & Olives, the very cool restaurant/bar/ cooking school/event space just over the Norwalk line.

Sessions last 2-3 hours, and include general information followed by private, 1-on-1 meetings. Of course, they’re free.

Fairfield County Bank offered a session on finance. Topics included loans and micro-financing. It was so successful, a follow-up focusing on taxes is planned for fall.

An insurance broker will talk about changes in that industry, while next month the Cohen and Wolf law firm discusses ideas like whether a vendor should become an LLC.

September brings a session on social media, courtesy of CT Bites’ Stephanie Webster.

The Westport Farmers' Market is held every Thursday (10 a.m.-2 p.m.) at the Imperial Avenue commuter parking lot.

The Westport Farmers’ Market is held every Thursday (10 a.m.-2 p.m.) at the Imperial Avenue commuter parking lot.

All presentations are pro bono. “These people are great,” Lori says. “They come in as educators, not salesmen. They understand our mission: helping the community. And the community includes our vendors, not just our shoppers.”

She has watched with joy as the Farmers’ Market businesses learn about — well, business.

“They’re talking to each other, and sharing ideas,” she says. “Our vendors are forming a real community.

“This is such a simple program. But it’s actually accomplishing a lot.”