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- Pic Of The Day #602
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DISCLAIMERThis blog is personal opinion, and is not representative of the views of the Westport School District or Board of Education.
Category Archives: Local business
Last summer, “06880” ran a story on Misty Mae.
The old, blind, long-haired chihuahua was found in a beat-up dog carrier on a Winslow Park bench.
Westport Animal Control, Schulhof Animal Hospital, and Westport Animal Shelter Advocates came to the rescue. They sheltered, treated and loved the abandoned animal.
Then they searched for a loving home.
The other day, WASA president Julie Loparo reported success.
Volunteers drove to Enfield, near the Massachusetts border. They met the couple who will adopt Misty Mae.
They’re skilled and knowledgeable in the care of special needs dogs (they already have 3). Their home is warm and inviting.
Later this month, WASA funds surgery for Misty Mae. After recovering at Schulhof, she heads to her new home.
Julie says: “Unfortunately, Misty Mae was not the first dog abandoned in Westport. She won’t be the last. But we thank Westport for helping us in our efforts to help dogs like her.”
Today is Black Friday: the start of the holiday shopping season.
Merchants hope folks flock downtown, jamming Main Street to shop at the many chain stores and less numerous but very cool locally owned ones, then grab a bite at the few places left to eat.
If you want basics, you have to go elsewhere. But back in the day, Main Street was an actual “main street.” It was filled with grocery stores, drugstores, hardware stores: the lifeblood of any town.
Here are 2 photos, from years past.
It takes a village to raise a child.
It also takes a village to distribute extra donuts, far and wide.
I’ve written before about Food Rescue US. That’s the amazing, app-based organization that enlists volunteers — whenever it’s convenient — to deliver extra food from restaurants, grocers, bakeries and caterers to soup kitchens, food pantries and other hunger relief organizations.
In fact, last April director Nicole Straight was our Unsung Hero #42.
But man does not live by fruits and vegetables alone.
A while ago, alert “06880” reader Marjorie Almansi asked Max Kupperberg — a Staples High School graduate, and Donut Crazy employee — what that very popular train station breakfast-and-more place did with their leftovers.
He quickly put her in touch with owner Joan Tuckman. Just as quickly, they got Food Rescue involved. Now — every day — those donuts find happy donated homes.
Donated donuts — especially Donut Crazy’s amazing varieties — bring smiles to everyone’s faces.
Three times a week, Latisha Williams brings them to Jettie S. Tisdale Elementary School in Bridgeport. She teaches 7th grade social studies there, and says that teachers she never knew before are all friendly to her now.
The donuts go to Westport’s Gillespie Center a few times a week too.
Marjorie often brings them to the custodians at Staples High School. If there are extras, she’ll give them to anyone else she sees.
So — on the eve of Thanksgiving — today’s Unsung Heroes are once again the wonderful Food Rescue US volunteers, and all the participants like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.
Plus director Nicole Straight, Donut Crazy, Latisha Williams and Marjori Almansi.
Those donuts are crazy!
Ryan Meserole owns a great business on Railroad Place.
Suited.co — recently rebranded as Quentin Row — is a men’s custom clothing shop. Directly opposite the train station, Ryan makes commuters (and many other folks) look and feel great.
A couple of miles away, Michael Connors has a thriving business too. Taylor Place — named for its location, between the library and Tiffany — is a consignment boutique, with an ever-changing treasure trove of intriguing items.
We often think of Saugatuck and downtown merchants as competitors. But Ryan and Michael forged a connection that’s a model for small local merchants, wherever they are in town.
Not long ago, Ryan wandered into Michael’s shop. He wanted some vintage pieces for his window display.
Michael already knew of Ryan from “06880.” The consignment owner asked the custom suit guy a few questions about marketing. Ryan helped re-build Michael’s website, and gave advice on how to leverage social media.
Michael — who has a wonderfully artistic eye — helped Ryan redecorate his storefront. He gave Ryan some sharp-looking furniture.
There’s now green ivy on the bricks, a new sign and alluring windows. Soon, Ryan will add a barber, stylists and shoeshine in the back, ramping up the men’s style vibe.
Quentin Row is going all out to be a great neighbor. Starting this Saturday, Ryan is opening up some of his newly renovated space as a holiday pop-up. For example, Lynn Reale of Gypsy Bleu Jewels will showcase her line of men’s beaded bracelets.
Artisans, craftsmen and other cool people interested in exhibiting at Quentin Row should email Ryan@suited.co.
Quentin Row also offers a Black Friday special (November 23 to 26): Buy one, get 50% off the second.
Michael and Ryan share a passion for Westport’s small businesses. Wherever they’re located in town, the 2 owners don’t want them to leave.
“The Chamber of Commerce helps where it can,” Ryan notes. “But 1-on-1 connections like this — sharing talents, helping each other — can really help revitalize Main Street, the rest of downtown, and Saugatuck.”
The idea is spreading. Ryan says that other stores on the block — like The Flat next door — are also freshening up their looks.
“If you don’t evolve, you die,” he notes. “We have to make sure that people enjoy shopping local.”
“No one wants to see a store like ours, or Michael’s — or Savvy + Grace, The Brownstone or Indulge by Mersene — go out. We all need to work together. And we’re having a great time doing it.”
The holiday season is here. Our local merchants work hard to draw shoppers in.
Now, they’re working together — to sew together our town.
Chain stores are fleeing Main Street. “Retail Space Available” signs fill the Post Road. “06880” commenters warn that high taxes, crumbling infrastructure and many other factors put our town in peril.
But a business environment is more than merchants. And a new study from the Yankee Institute ranks Westport as Connecticut’s 3rd most business-friendly town.
The public policy institute collected and measured data from the state’s 50 largest municipalities. Criteria included economic vitality (median income and job growth), tax burden, transportation, and “community allure” (education, crime rates, cost of living).
The Yankee Institute report says Westport is
heavily reliant on financial service companies, with over 7,000 financial-sector employees. Major companies include Bridgewater Associates and Canaan Partners from the financial services area. But Westport is also home to Terex, a Fortune 500 industrial equipment manufacturing company.
The Yankee Institute adds: “Westport’s score was lowered by its high tax burden. But high community allure, economic vitality and transportation infrastructure kept it high on our list.”
I’m not sure what “transportation infrastructure” means — something about ports of entry, interstate highways and rail lines — but we’ll take it.
Westport followed Fairfield and Greenwich. Ridgefield was 4th, Simsbury 5th — meaning the state’s 4 most business-friendly towns are in Fairfield County.
The least business-friendly places were cities like Waterbury, New Haven and Hartford. All face severe fiscal challenges. Stamford was the only major city to score in the top 25.
To celebrate our town’s ranking, “06880” invites you to treat yourself to something nice — a gift perhaps, or a meal.
Anywhere in town that’s open.
(Click here for the full report. Hat tip: Avi Kaner)
A year ago, “06880”‘s Veterans Day story highlighted Dylan Mace.
The Staples High School junior was raising funds for Westport’s VFW Post 399. The Riverside Avenue building lacked a handicap-accessible bathroom. Dylan was appalled — “brave men and women who serve could lose limbs!” he said — and vowed to help.
Dylan — whose grandfather was a Korean War vet — went to work. Singlehandedly, he raised almost $8,000.
And then he got more help from the community.
Early in his fundraising, architect Lou Lefort and electrician Barry O’Reilly offered their services.
General contractor Scott Rochlin contacted Dylan too. Scott’s son Charley was a decorated Marine.
After Charley died in an automobile accident, Scott’s family set up a foundation to help veterans and their families. Scott volunteered to oversee the project — and said his organization would cover any extra costs.
Scott also brought in Dino Meloni, from Nicolia Marble and Tile. He installed the bathroom tile, gratis.
Bender donated a handicap sink and toilet. Lowe’s and The Tile Shop in Norwalk gave Dylan contractor discounts on supplies. Westport Glass chipped in too.
But Dylan wanted this to be extra-special for veterans. He found Custom-Tiles.com online, and asked if they could make special tiles with the emblems of the 5 US military branches. The owner worked with Dylan, creating amazing ones for the walls.
Dylan was so moved by the project, and the people he met through it, that when it came time to plan his service project for the National Honor Society, he asked to paint the inside of the VFW — and spruce up the outside.
Congratulations, Dylan, for all you do.
I’m sorry I couldn’t post this a few days ago, on Veterans Day.
But thanks to you — and all who helped — every great day at the VFW will now be even better.