Tag Archives: Annette Norton

“06880” Podcast: Annette Norton

Annette Norton loves downtown.

The owner of Savvy + Grace — the fun, funky gifts-and-more Main Street store — takes every opportunity she can to talk up the shops, restaurants and events that once again draw folks to the area.

She spoke passionately and insightfully about downtown — its past, present and future — along with her recent decision to become a Westport homeowner on “06880: The Podcast.”

Annette’s thoughts will get listeners thinking too. Click here for the latest edition of “06880: The Podcast.”

Screenshot from Annette Norton’s “06880” podcast.

Unsung Heroes #168

Even before COVID, it was our mantra: “Buy local.”

Since the pandemic, we’ve paid even more attention to the importance of supporting the men and women who — against ever-more daunting odds — make this town go.

They stock stuff we need. They employ our kids and grandparents. They support every school and civic fundraiser. They answer our calls. They know our names.

And — this is really cool — they support each other. I posted this story last weekend, but it might have gotten lost over the holiday. So here it is again:

There’s a new Christmas tree on Main Street, right next to the old Tavern on Main restaurant. But it’s more than just a handsome holiday sight.

Annette Norton — owner of the nearby Savvy + Grace gift shop — works with the Ralphola Taylor Charity, a YMCA community center serving low-income Bridgeport children. They earn points for good behavior during after-school activities, then redeem those points at the center’s Holiday Store by buying presents for their families.

Annette Norton and the Christmas tree, near Savvy + Grace.

In return for purchasing a gift for the Ralphola Taylor Charity, Annette will personalize a white dove ornament with the donor’s name, and hang it on the tree.

Gifts can be bought 3 ways:

  • At Savvy + Grace (next to the former Tavern on Main restaurant)
  • Online (at checkout, just choose free delivery to the charity)
  • Purchase something from any other local store, then drop it off at Savvy + Grace. What a great way to support all Westport merchants, and kids in Bridgeport.

Donations are accepted now through Monday, December 7.

How great that Annette wants you to purchase a gift at any local store. And how wonderful that she’s a local merchant.

Which is why Annette Norton — and all Westport business owners, struggling but still giving in this holiday season — are this week’s Unsung Heroes.

(Do you know an Unsung Hero? Email dwoog@optonline.net)

Roundup: Downtown Tree, Dead Fish, More


The Main Street Christmas tree is starting to look a lot more Christmas-y.

Annette Norton — the owner of Savvy + Grace, whose front door is just steps away — is personalizing ornaments for the handsome tree. (Knowing Annette, I guarantee: They’re beautiful.)

But there’s more to this story than ornaments on a tree. Annette is working with the Ralphola Taylor Charity, a YMCA community center that serves low-income Bridgeport children. They earn points for good behavior during after-school activities — and then redeem those points at the center’s Holiday Store by buying presents for their families.

In return for purchasing a gift for the Ralphola Taylor Charity, Annette will personalize a white dove ornament with the donor’s name, and hang it on the tree.

Gifts can be bought 3 ways:

  • At Savvy + Grace (next to the former Tavern on Main restaurant)
  • Online (at checkout, just choose free delivery to the charity)
  • Purchase something from any other local store, then drop it off at Savvy + Grace. What a great way to support all Westport merchants, and kids in Bridgeport.

Donations are accepted now through December 7. Let’s fill that tree — and the Ralphola Taylor Charity Holiday Shop! shelves!

Main Street Christmas tree.


It’s a common — and natural — occurrence, though not often so late in the season.

When bunker form large schools they deprive themselves of oxygen, and suffocate.

Dozens of dead fish have been spotted recently, at Compo Beach and Grace Salmon Park. Here was the scene yesterday, at Parker Harding Plaza:

(Photo/Arlene Yolles)


And finally … the Grand Ole Opry debuted on this date in 1925, as a “barn dance” broadcast on WSM. 95 years later, it’s the longest running radio broadcast in American history. 

Uncle Jimmy Thompson was the first performer on that first show. He was 77 years old — so the recording below shows someone born 13 years before the Civil War began. Talk about American Roots music!

Downtown Busking Set For Saturday

If you’ve been downtown lately you know that most stores are open, and life is returning to Main Street and environs.

If you haven’t been downtown: Here’s your chance.

This Saturday (July 25, 12:30 p.m.), there’s live entertainment. The area around 146 Main Street will be filled with cool and talented musicians.

(Busking will take place near Savvy + Grace on Main Street. Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

The busking is the brainchild of 2 dynamos: Savvy + Grace owner Annette Norton, and actor/singer/educator Cynthia Gibb.

Annette — whose gifts-and-more shop is another great reason to head downtown — firmly believes that interesting events draw people to the Main Street she loves.

Cynthia — a Staples High School graduate, star of “Fame” and founder of Triple Threat Academy for young actors, singers and dancers — has enlisted nearly a dozen entertainers. Some have already recorded professional; others have appeared on TV.

Some of Saturday’s entertainers.

The cast includes “Billy Elliot” dancer/”County Comfort” TV star/Staples player Jamie Mann; Westporter Rob (Slosberg) Morton, whose “Just One More Day With You” has over 100,000 YouTube views; Momo Burns-Min, a recent Weston High graduate who performed with Kelli O’Hara in the Westport Country Playhouse’s April livestream; soulful indie singer/songwriter Rachel Rose of Brooklyn, and Wilton High’s Olivia Vitterelli.

Each singer will perform a couple of songs. It’s fast-paced and fun. Of course, masks and social distancing are required.

Let the busking begin!

Westport’s own Jamie Mann also performs this Saturday.

COVID Roundup: Fields Monitoring; Free Coding Class; Mask Making; Easter Baskets; STAR Funding; More

Beginning yesterday, town personnel are monitoring facilities closely. The goal: making sure that physical distance standards are adhered to by all.

Director Jen Fava says, “We continue to find people not only using our closed facilities, like athletic fields, courts, and other recreational areas, but also gathering in groups at these and other Parks & Rec and school facilities. In addition, there continues to be an issue with people not having dogs on leash.

“Parks and Recreation Department staff, in conjunction with school security staff and the Westport Police Department, will monitor the facilities to ensure compliance in an effort to protect the health and safety of our residents. Any non-compliance with staff will be referred to the Westport Police Department.”

Crowds have been gathering at the Staples football field, among other venues.


Looking for a new hobby, for yourself or your kids?

Learn to code — for free.

Staples High School Class of 1992 graduate Mark Lassoff has made a career offering tech ed videos online. Now he’s paying it forward.

Lassoff’s Fairfield-based Framework TV COVID-19 Code Camp teaches digital skills like coding, web development and digital design — for free. No prior experience is needed.

Video lessons and activities are offered 4 times a week. It’s interactive: Participants get to know each other, and ask questions of instructors.

For more information and registration, click here.

Mark Lassoff


For the past 2 years, Virginia Jaffe helped make costumes for the Greens Farms Elementary School play. Now she and her fellow designers are putting their creative skills to use by making masks for men and women on the front lines — in food stores, markets, hospitals, medical offices and the like.

Virginia, Jurga Subaciute, Marisa Zer and Taran Gulliksen set up production lines in their homes. They make over 100 masks a day. “We’re home schooling, house cleaning and meal making,” she says. “But we can also cut fabric and sew.”

As national and state officials urge Americans to wear masks, the need will grow.

The women need unused flat 5mm or thin rope elastic. Colors do not matter.

In addition, they’re looking for people with sewing machines who wants to help. “We’ll give you instructions and patterns for making masks,” Virginia says. “And we will coordinate where they need to be sent.”

If you can’t sew but want to get involved through a financial contribution (to purchase fabric, threads and elastic directly from a Norwalk supplier who offers heavily discounted prices), see below.

If you know of a group of local front line workers who need masks, she’d like to know too.

To donate elastic and/or funds, offer to help, or suggest recipients, email Westportmasks@yahoo.com.


With all that’s going on, add another stress: how to fill an Easter basket.

Savvy+Grace’s doors are closed. But energetic, creative owner Annette Norton offers safe (curbside pickup) for orders. And every one includes a solid chocolate bunny!

Email savvyandgracewestport@gmail.com. Include:

  • Your full name and cell phone
  • The age, name and gender of the gift recipient
  • The gift recipient’s size (top and bottom)
  • The recipient’s interests (dance, theater, type of sport, etc.)
  • Pierced ears? Likes jewelry?
  • Any other info that might be helpful.

Annette will text back with photos and prices, for your perfect basket.

Annette Norton is ready for Easter.


Laura Blair is one of STAR’s best fundraisers. This time of year, she’s usually a familiar figure outside stores and Staples sports contests, collecting pledges and donations for the annual Walk, 5K and Roll at Sherwood Island State Park.

STAR serves individuals with developmental disabilities and their families. The event helps support 12 group homes and 10 apartments, assisting 110 people with independent living, plus training and job placement to nearly 250 adults.

This year, the fundraiser is online. Click here to help Laura reach her $15,000 goal.

Laura Blair is a fundraising STAR.


And finally, what better way to end the week than with the wonderful Louis Armstrong:

Restaurants Take Drastic Steps; Savvy + Grace Closes Temporarily

First it was schools. Then the library, Town Hall and Y. Last night, it was the beaches and Compo playground.

Now, COVID-19 is rippling through our restaurants.

Yesterday, Bill Taibe closed his 3 restaurants — The Whelk, Kawa Ni and Jesup Hall — for in-house dining.

Takeout meals are available through curbside pick-up. If you can’t leave the house — or don’t want to — they’ll deliver. It may take some time how to do it, Taube says, “but we’ll figure it out. Everybody’s got to eat!

“We feel this is necessary in order to do our part to help stop the spread of this virus,” says the owner of 3 of Westport’s most popular dining spots.

“If there’s ever a time to tip, this is it,” he adds.

For the time being, the doors to The Whelk will be closed. (Photo courtesy of Our Town Crier)

While not closing, other restaurants are taking their own measures during the pandemic.

Pearl at Longshore — which recently hired a new chef, reworked the menu and remodeled the interior — has removed some tables, creating more distance between diners. They offer 10% off on takeout orders, and will bring it outside for pickup.

Pearl at Longshore has made changes….

In addition to also removing tables, offering curbside pick-up and delivery (within 3 miles), Rizzuto’s has removed items like flowers and salt and pepper shakers from all tables. They’re printing menus on lightweight paper for single use. too.

… and so has Rizzuto’s …

The Boathouse has added curbside pick-up, and will soon offer delivery.

… and the Boathouse, at the Saugatuck Rowing Club.

They — and every other restaurant in town — have strengthened existing health policies, and implemented new ones, such as washing hands upon arrival at work; before and after serving or removing food and beverages; before resetting tables, and after every customer interaction, including credit card processing. They’ve also expanded and enhanced their cleaning and disinfecting protocols.

Restaurants also encourage patrons to buy gift cards. They provide much-needed cash now — particularly for small, great places like Jeera Thai — and can be used whenever you feel comfortable going inside.

PS: It’s not just restaurants. Customers can call Calise’s Market (203-227-3257). They’ll put together hot foods, soups, sandwiches, cold cuts, homemade pizzas, drinks, snacks, milk, water, bread, eggs, butter, dry goods — whatever you want  — all for curbside service or delivery.

Sandra Calise-Cenatiempo reports they just stocked up on pasta, sauces and many canned goods. Tomorrow (Monday) they’ll start making dishes that can be frozen.

If you own a restaurant — or store — and would like “06880” readers to know what you’re doing, click “Comments” below.


But restaurants are not the only small businesses reeling from COVID-19.

Savvy + Grace — the great, locally own downtown unique gifts-and-more store — will close for a while. But only the doors.

Owner Annette Norton — Main Street’s biggest booster — says:

As a small business owner I have been grappling with how to handle this.

I am responsible for the rent, vendor bills, expenses, yet with all of the information I am collection, it pales in comparison with our community’s health. Therefore, I have decided to close until further notice.

I will be inside, alone, processing all of our new merchandise for spring. Which, by the way, allows me to offer curbside delivery and call-ins, or direct message me on Instagram for shipping: @savvyandgracewestport. You can also call the store: 203-221-0077.

My store has always been, and always will be, about putting my customers first. This too shall pass.

I just want to do what is responsible, given the information available. It has been my pleasure to serve this community, and I am committed to seeing this through.

See you soon. Stay healthy!

Savvy + Grace, a jewel on Main Street. (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

Savvy And Graceful: Fun Shopping Night With A Serious Mission

Since opening Savvy + Grace on Main Street 2 years ago, Annette Norton has been one of downtown Westport’s biggest boosters.

Shoppers love her cool, funky, crammed-to-the-gills-gift-and-more shop tucked underneath Tavern on Main. Annette returns the favor, sponsoring fun events inside and out that showcase nearby retail neighbors (and Rye Ridge Deli) too.

Savvy + Grace, on Main Street. (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

The next one is Thursday, November 7. From 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., she’ll bring a large white tent with lights, a food truck with light bites, and rinks to Main Street.

But the joyful gathering has a serious back story.

In 1976 Annette’s mother, Caryl Ann Stein Lagaris, moved as a single mother to Fairfield. Annette — then a young girl — says that her town had only a couple of interesting stores.

Westport, by contrast, had the Remarkable Book Shop, Klein’s, and many more, plus loads ofo restaurants.

When Annette, her sister and mother went out, her mother seldom drank even a glass of wine. She never used drugs

Caryl Ann Stein Lagaris

But after a serious car accident, Caryl Ann was prescribed opioids. She died 13 years ago, from a fentanyl overdose. She was 61 years old.

“She was my mother, a grandmother, a businesswoman and a woman with so much humor and character,” Annette says. “I miss her every day.”

At the time, she notes, little was known about opioids. Annette could not understand why her mother just did not stop taking the medication. Or why she surrounded herself with people who enabled the situation.

When her mother was addicted to opioids, Annette’s relationship was “tested, strained and in turmoil.” She had no idea how bad things were.

Looking back, Annette says, “I see she needed help. But she was probably too embarrassed to admit what was truly gong on.”

Annette feels guilty. “If I knew then what I know now, I often wonder if I could have stopped this.”

After Caryl Ann’s death, Annette and her sister asked the police if the doctor could be held accountable for prescribing so much medication. “Your mother had pills all over the bedroom,” the officer said. “She was a junkie.”

Annette felt stigma, shame and pain. Today, she knows her mother was not a junkie. She was a woman struggling with the disease of addiction.

As the mother now of teenage girls, Annette shares any information she can find related to drugs.

Annette Norton, her husband and their daughters.

On Facebook, she saw a post about a man in Easton who lost his son to opioids. That was Annette’s introduction to Shatterproof.

The non-profit works to end the shame and stigma associated with addiction, and end its devastation.

“I work downtown every day. I love what I do, and the people I meet,” Annette says. “I finally feel I have a large enough customer base to hold a fabulous fundraiser and, together, do something for such an amazing cause.

“For me, this is what having a business in this beautiful town is about: being part of a wonderful community.”

The event itself is free. Annette will contribute a percentage of proceeds from purchases that night to Shatterproof.

Any other businesses on Main Street that would like to help: feel free to join in!

(If you plan to attend the shopping-and-more event on November 7, please email savvyandgracewestport@gmail.com. Annette hopes to get an approximate head count of attendees.)

Annette Norton, with some of “06880”‘s favorite merchandise. (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

Music On Main Street

Annette Norton has a full-time job. She owns Savvy + Grace, the fun, funky gifts-and-more store underneath Tavern on Main.

But she spends plenty of time on a related project: bringing excitement back to all of Main Street.

Last month she brought an outdoor market to the parking lot behind her place. It rained — but the vendors and shoppers had a blast.

Madelyn Spera

Tomorrow, she’s arranged for live music out in front. Madelyn Spera is a young singer-songwriter who plays piano and guitar, acts in musical theater, and — though just a rising Staples High School freshman — has already performed at New York’s Bitter End.

She’ll be on Main Street from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Annette is working with the Youth Arts Forum — of which Madelyn is a member — to bring young talent downtown every Saturday.

Her landlord — Phil Teuscher — is very supportive. Like Annette, he understands the importance of fun — and music — on Main Street.

Sunday: Get Set To Jet Downtown

When Annette Norton made the rainy decision to postpone last weekend’s rainy Outdoor Market to this Sunday (May 5), she thought her biggest issue would be letting everyone know.

She didn’t figure that — in addition to Main Street being closed right in front of the private parking lot behind Tavern on Main, where 2 dozen vendors of very cool jewelry, crafts and terrariums set up shop — a jet will be parked next door.

The street closing — which only impacts the first hour of the Outdoor Market — is for the Spring Concours d’Caffeine. Vintage and classic cars are on display.

So is a Cirrus Vision CF50 jet. It’s very light — but a jet is a jet.

Joining it is an ICON A5 amphibious light sport aircraft.

The Concours runs from 8 to 11 a.m. The Outdoor Market is 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. So come for the cars and the jet. Stay for the crafts, music and food.

Who says downtown Westport is dead?

————————————-

Among the vehicles on display at the Spring Concours d’Caffeine:

1910 Mercedes Benz 37/90
1911 Simplex 90
1915 Dodge Brothers
2 Indy pace cars (Camaro ’69, Oldsmobile ’70)
Mustang retractable hard top
Mercedes Benz 190SL, 230SL, 280SL
1940 Lincoln Continental convertible
Several Porsche 356s
Several Triumph TR3s and 4s
Ferrari California
Acura NSX
2019 BMW I8.

The Ackleys from Fairfield, with their Dodge Brothers car. They were dressed in costume for a part in a new film, “The Chaperone.”

[UPDATE] Remarkable Books Is Back!

Well, sort of.

Jane Green’s Remarkable Bookcycle — the quirky, fun homage to the late, much-lamented Remarkable Book Shop — reappeared on Main Street this weekend, across the street from the old pink store at the corner of Parker Harding Plaza.

Next week (note rain date: Sunday, May 5, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.), you can find it at the first-ever Outdoor Market. Savvy + Grace owner Annette Norton developed the idea of filling the private parking lot behind Tavern on Main with local artisans.

Nearly 2 dozen vendors will offer jewelry, terrariums, hand-designed greeting cards and more.

The Remarkable Book Shop is gone. But the Remarkable Bookcycle is back.

And next weekend’s Outdoor Market may be the start of a remarkable new tradition of its own.