Category Archives: Local business

Suit Yourself

Parking along Railroad Place is restricted to customers of shops facing the train station.

Apparently these 2 guys liked the spot in front of Suited.co — the high-quality, hand-crafted suit store — so much, they figured out a way to save it for a while.

Suited.co

They’re no dummies.

Laura Maged’s WEST Comes East

When new shops open here, they often ask for an “06880” shout-out.

I’m happy to oblige, I say — provided they give me a strong Westport hook. It can’t be just “new store in town,” I tell them. Give me something local to sink my teeth into.

I seldom hear back.

Bags on display at WEST.

Bags on display at WEST.

That’s why I’m glad to talk about WEST. The new fashion/art/jewelry/ accessories place on 117 Post Road East (across from Bank of America) cleverly incorporates a Westport sensibility with influences from the “WEST Coast” (and even further west, Australia).

But it also carries the line of a very local designer — Emerson Kobak — who is still just a Staples High School junior. (One more reason to like WEST: The owners discovered Emerson through this “06880” blog.)

The new store is the brainchild of Westporter Laura Maged. A Long Island native who spent many “magical” years in her 20s and 30s in Southern California, she heard about our town after she and her husband moved to New York.

Laura Maged

Laura Maged

The folks she met here seemed to always do intriguing things. The “rich arts heritage and easy style” attracted her. She loved Compo Beach (and the playground), while downtown reminded her of Brentwood.

Laura thought she could “recreate a little of my special LA life here.” Starting in 2002, she did just that.

Now WEST, she says, will be a place where Westport and the West Coast’s “casual, easy lifestyles” mix. Her vision is for “a cool, easy place to shop.”

Emerson Kobak

Emerson Kobak

But while she’s all about bringing the coast vibe east, she’s also excited to team up with Kobak. The teenager studies every Saturday at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology. She spent this summer in Cornell’s fashion design program, and now adds her line — Emerson Isa Designs — to WEST.

It’s always good news when a new mom-and-pop — or, in this case, “mom” shop — comes to town.

It’s even better news when the owner truly gets the local vibe.

And gets what “06880” looks for in a story. After all, this blog’s tagline is “where WESTport meets the world.”

Oh My 06880 — Photo Challenge #85

Last week’s colorful — but fairly easy — photo challenge showed the narrow steps leading from the Spotted Horse parking lot/back of Urban Outfitters to Post Road East.

Apparently lots of people — including alert “06880” readers Ben Frimmer, Tom Ryan, Sally Korsh, Rich Stein, Josh Moritz, Shirlee Gordon, Jeff Ruden and Wendy Schaefer — knew about this great cut-through. Now, many more do. To see the photo and all comments, click here.

This week’s photo challenge is also colorful. Perhaps more obscure too. If you think you know where in Westport you’d find this, click “Comments.” Add any insights into why it’s there too!

(Photo/Bob Mitchell)

(Photo/Bob Mitchell)


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!

Harold Levine: “You Might Say I’m A Dreamer…”

Alert “06880” reader/former advertising executive/94-year-old longtime Westporter Harold Levine writes:

I recently learned about the closing of Oscar’s Deli, probably the last of the old family-owned stores on Main Street. When Sue and I moved to Westport we frequently walked Main Street, chatted with friends and neighbors, visited Sally at Klein’s to learn about the latest records, and dropped in on the Kramers in their popular book store. We shopped at Gristedes and the local hardware store. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could bring that mood back to Westport?

Main Street, in the mom-and-pop shop days.

Main Street, in the mom-and-pop shop days.

Wouldn’t it be nice if our kids would meet in school children whose parents were nurses, electricians, plumbers, policemen, teachers and auto mechanics?

Wouldn’t it be nice if our children could become friends with black, Hispanic and Asian kids before they went to college? Wouldn’t it be nice if Baron’s South became Westport’s Central Park, where kids could play ball, ride a bike or go roller skating, and families could picnic on this beautiful spot?

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a plan to provide an area in downtown for small, family-owned stores, and where we could  stroll and enjoy the riverfront?

I can hear my friends saying, “he’s a dreamer.” They are right. I have always been a dreamer.

Perhaps there are others in town who agree with me. Maybe they will start a small group that could meet and hopefully plant the seeds for making Westport a “friendlier and more welcoming community” over the next 25 years.

Elm Street Swap Would Change Downtown Streetscape

As reported in March on “06880,” 36 Elm Street is the final key to creating an entirely new downtown streetscape. That’s where the Villa del Sol restaurant intrudes into the sidewalk next to the new Bedford Square retail/residential complex. And where an adjacent parking lot — near the back entrance to the old Y and the former Klein’s — is a poorly configured, hard-to-navigate, chaotic mess.

David Waldman — the Bedford Square developer — has spent months pursuing a land swap. He hopes to buy 36 Elm Street, then trade it for a section of the town-owned Baldwin parking lot across the street. Waldman would build an 8,477-square foot building behind Lux Bond & Green.

Villa del Sol would reopen there, alongside 3 small retail stores. Small retail stores would open there. Above them would be 4 apartments — 1 of them rented under state “affordable” guidelines.

The town would demolish the Villa del Sol building, creating additional parking, walkways and greenery. Waldman says that despite taking Baldwin spots for the new building, the town would net a gain of 2 parking spaces in the new lot.

None of this is new news. But Waldman has just created a web site that shows  — visually — exactly what the move would look like. Here’s the view looking south, with the Brooks Corner shopping center at bottom center.

36 Elm Swap 1

Here’s another view. Brooks Corner — is at left, with Serena & Lily behind it:

36 Elm Swap 2

Here’s an artist’s rendering. The new parking lot (old 36 Elm Street) is at left; across Elm Street is the new building (white), with Serena & Lily next to it.

Elm Street swap - 3

For more information on the proposed 36 Elm Street swap, click here.


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!

Weekend Routine That Is Anything But

We all have weekends routines — the rituals we perform every Saturday or Sunday. We don’t think about them; we just do them. But they define us — and our town — more than we realize.

Alert “06880” reader Carter Wiseman shares his:

Most Saturday mornings, I visit People’s Bank on the Post Road at North Compo. Victoria and Nikki know my name. They don’t ask if I need my balance, because I view it online.

Trader Joe's - 1Next, I head across the street to Trader Joe’s. I check out avocados and more with Trude, whose bow-hunting father (I learned) pulled out her tooth by attaching it to an arrow.

From there it’s on to Westport Hardware. Dave once advised me on a cheap snake, so I did not have to call an $80-an-hour plumber to clear a bathroom drain.

I end my Saturday morning with a trip up the Post Road, to Liberty Army & Navy. I chat with Eve, the owner, who took over the store from her brother Bob (with whom I bonded over tales of the Viet Nam era. I had a cushy intelligence job with the Army in Germany; Bob was in the Air Force at Khe Sanh.)

My final stop is next door, at Castle Wines. I always look forward to seeing Kathleen, who has an advanced degree in oenology but nevertheless recommends an inexpensive Malbec.

What’s your weekend routine? Where do you go, who do you see, and why do you like it? Click “Comments” to share!

Saugatuck Digital Arts Workshop Opens Soon — In Fairfield

As a child of the 1960s and ’70s, Mike Stuttman knew Westport when it was filled with creative artist-types, and was a marketing mecca too.

He followed both paths. After Staples High School and the Cambridge School, Stuttman headed to the Rochester Institute of Technology for photography. “I loved it, but I couldn’t make ideas appear,” he says. Along the way, he was exposed to animation. So when he transferred to the University of Colorado, he majored in…

…math.

(Coleytown Junior High School teacher Otilia Malinowski had sparked that interest, years earlier.)

Mike Stuttman

Mike Stuttman

Stuttman embarked on a long career in direct marketing. He worked in New York and, locally, for the Ryan Partnership and Barry Blau. For the past 10 years, he’s consulted.

But around 2008 — when the recession hit — his phone stopped ringing. Stuttman — who’d never lost his passion for animation and computers — had an epiphany: Photoshop was just like cel animation.

He taught himself the software. Then in 2010, on a whim, he applied to New York’s School of Visual Arts, for an MFA in computer art.

It was a wonderful experience. Stuttman — newly energized — particularly enjoyed his technical classes, using software like After Effects. “I learned the craft of making digital art,” he says.

Next came a vision: replicating a space like SVA, to offer digital art classes locally. He could fill it with talented instructors, and students who want to make art with animation.

Westport — where his politically active mother Dora had run the Top Drawer store, and his father Burt owned a direct marketing firm — was the perfect spot. Stuttman — who loved the river — even had the perfect name: Saugatuck Digital Arts Workshop.

Saugatuck Digital Arts Workshop

He searched everywhere for the perfect location. He could not find one.

Finally, space became available in the old Fairfield Department Store building. It was within walking distance of the train station (he thought most instructors would commute from the city). There were great restaurants nearby.

“I’ve become that guy: a Westporter who’s a Fairfield convert,” Stuttman says.

He’ll offer software classes in computer art basics, digital darkroom, digital storytelling, digital sound for artists, computer sound, animation, editing and post-production, motion graphics, graphic design and small business marketing.

Classes typically run once a week for 2 hours, over the course of 6 weeks.

His potential audience includes “self-identified artists, and aspiring and working creative professionals” is vast: photographers, film and video makers, painters, graphic designers, musicians, sound designers, animators, editors, compositors, VFX artists, podcasters, DJs, makers and coders — and “the curious and creative.”

Students will use 8 “sexy, great and fully loaded 27” iMac workstations.

As it turns out, Stuttman has found a great pool of instructors right around here. They won’t need the train.

“And they’re excellent teachers — not just accomplished professionals,” Stuttman notes.

So when he opens right after Labor Day, why will Stuttman’s Fairfield space be called Saugatuck Digital Arts Workshop?

“I love rivers. The Saugatuck is not only in Westport, you know. I would have loved a red-brick, individual space. But it’s tough to find an inexpensive, small place in Westport.”

Besides, he’s not the only Fairfield business with a Westport name.

Saugatuck Sweets is around the corner.

(To learn more about Saugatuck Digital Arts Workshop, click here.)


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!

Friday Flashback: The Follow-Up

Friday’s 1st-ever “Flashback” photo caused quite a bit of commotion, among a subset of “06880” readers.

The image — of the Pine Knoll Inn — led to back-and-forth comments, about whether the once grand home-turned-boardinghouse had ever been moved, from its spot on the Post Road behind the Crest Drive-In to a place further back at what is now Playhouse Square.

Jill Turner Odice just sent this photo, from 1950:

Saugatuck Church moving 1950

It shows the Saugatuck Congregational Church being moved — on logs — down and across the Post Road, from its original site near the current Sunoco gas station, to its present location. (Life Magazine featured the event, in a photo spread.)

You can see the Tydol gas station (more recently Getty, now Quality Service and Towing.) Next to it is Dairy Queen — the forerunner of the Crest.

And there, directly behind the gas station on the far left, you can see a little bit of the Pine Knoll Inn.

Meanwhile, Neil Brickley emailed aerial photos. They don’t reproduce well here, but they do show that between 1934 and 1965, the Pine Knoll definitely moved further back.

The year was probably 1957. Wendy Crowther noted this:

In April of 1957 there was a law suit filed by contractors who were hired to remove topsoil from the Pine Hill Estates property “in the rear of the Dairy Queen stand” during the “relocation of the Pine Knoll Inn, which is owned by Pine Hill Estates.”

The Pine Knoll Inn met its end in the early 1980s. It was torn down to make way for the Playhouse Condominium complex, behind what had already become Playhouse Square.

Happy 70th Anniversary, Bob And Jean!

Alert “06880” reader and sweetFrog frozen yogurt shop owner Jennifer Gallan writes:

Around 6:35 every evening, I start looking in the parking lot for my friend in his hot red convertible Mustang. He’s never later than 7:15 — but if he ever is, I’ve told him I’ll go to his house to deliver.

You’ve probably seen this older man around town, proudly sporting his World War II hat and jacket, at lunch with a friend at the Sherwood Diner, Gold’s or Little Kitchen, or shopping in the grocery store as he makes his daily menu.

He doesn’t plan it too early, as he’s never sure what he might feel like eating. He cooks dinner every night for his “harem,” as I call it. They’re the nurses who help him take care of his wife. After he cooks dinner for everyone, he comes to me to get dessert.

Bob Satter is 92 years young. He’s a husband, father, grandfather — and he loves Westport.

In 2014, Bob Satter was grand marshal of Westport's Memorial Day parade.

In 2014, Bob Satter was grand marshal of Westport’s Memorial Day parade.

Every day, Bob slowly pulls into the parking lot. I make my way over to greet him. I walk by his side, volunteering to make his wife Jean’s cup of Cookies ‘n’ Cream, after he has wiggled out 2, 3 or 4 small cups.

He makes the rest. I happily bring them up to the scale.

As we walk, he tells me about his day and what he made for dinner, whether someone in his harem hit traffic, how thankful he is for the help and how his heart breaks.

But, he says, “I’ve had a very good life.” He says he “made a promise” to his wife — who barely recognizes him anymore.

He tells me quick stories, smiles and talks to my customers. He loves to tell a good joke. When he’s there, he has the floor the whole time.

I tell everyone he is a WWII vet — in case they don’t see his jacket and hat. Every veteran deserves respect. Some of the children in my store may never get the chance to meet a (famed portrait photographer) World War II veteran again.

Bob Satter, during World War II.

Bob Satter, during World War II.

As I bag Bob’s yogurt, I label them with lovers’ names: Desi and Lucy. Scarlett and Rhett. Prince Eric and Ariel — the list goes on.

I make sure to put hearts on Jean’s — lots of hearts. I show him who he and his wife are for the evening, and he laughs.

Sometimes he does not know who the lovers are. He says he wasn’t watching TV — he was providing for his family. I gently explain, and we laugh together.

Bob and Jean Satter, a few years ago.

Bob and Jean Satter, a few years ago.

I walk with him to his car. I open the door, and make sure my friend is in. I hand off the yogurt. We chat again, but he’s got to get back so his yogurt doesn’t melt.

As I stand in the parking lot to make sure the traffic is clear, he smiles and waves. “I hope to see you tomorrow,” he says.

My reply is always the same: “I hope to see you tomorrow too — I will!”

Sometimes he jokes, “I don’t even buy green bananas.” We both laugh, as he drives away.

I smile. As I walk back into the store, I’m at peace. I tell my customers his story of love.

Today, Bob will be married 70 years. That’s something to be proud of.

Happy 70th anniversary, Bob and Jean. Yours is love at its finest!

Bob and Jean Satter on their wedding day. He was 22 years old; she was 20.

Bob and Jean Satter on their wedding day. He was 22 years old; she was 20.

 

 

 

Rummaging Through A New Sports Attic

If you’re like many Westport families, your house is filled with things your kids have grown out of, moved on from or otherwise discarded: Clothes. Toys. Sports equipment.

Greg DiLenge can’t unclutter your home of clothes or toys. But those too-small skates, extra lacrosse sticks and unused skis?

Take ’em from the basement to the attic. The Sports Attic.

Sports AtticThat’s the name of his new business, across from the train station at 26 Railroad Place.

He’s still buying “quality secondhand sporting equipment.” He’s in the midst of a soft opening — but he offers cash on the spot.

Or you can check out the amply stocked shelves, and buy gear — inexpensively — for your kid who may (or may not) end up loving a sport.

Growing up, Greg did. “To me, sports have always evoked a sense of responsibility,” the Philadelphia native says.

“They taught me the value of working with others. Sports encouraged a sense of self. I love the camaraderie of playing sports, and am in awe of the discipline required to be an elite athlete.”

But he knows not everyone will reach that goal, or wants to.

He knows too that not everyone can afford sports equipment.

As a kid, Greg loved hockey. But there was not enough money for both him and his brother to play. So they flipped a coin. Greg lost, and got basketball. His brother went on to play hockey at Penn State.

Greg cheered him on. But he always wondered, “What if…?”

For many years, Greg worked traded commodities in New York — while looking for a lifestyle change. His uncle started a new and quality pre-owned sporting goods store in Westchester over 15 years ago. The business model attracted Greg.

Now — with his 1st child due later this month —  Greg is ready to make that leap. It’s the perfect time to launch a new business aimed at helping kids.

Greg DiLenge, in his Sports Attic.

Greg DiLenge, in his Sports Attic.

“We want to be more than a store,” Greg says. “We want to connect with families, schools, camps and local sports organizations, to collaborate and help each other.”

His goal is to provide “an interesting alternative for acquiring sports equipment.”

Though Greg loves all sports, he has a soft spot for hockey and lacrosse. Both are expensive — and can be daunting for parents who don’t know if their children will follow through.

Greg has reached out to major vendors, amassing “starter” kits to help soften the sting on wallets.

His narrow shop is rapidly filling with sports gear. His goal is to turn it over rapidly — buying good-quality equipment from parents whose kids have outgrown or discarded it, then selling it to others whose kids are just starting out.

And when those youngsters move up or on — well, Sports Attic will be there for them too.