Tag Archives: Double L Market

Double L Market: Seeds Of Survival

For over 30 years, Lloyd Allen has served Westporters.

First at actual farm stands, now in a Post Road store next to Calise’s, he offers the freshest fruits, vegetables, eggs, bread, meat, fish, baked goods, soups, salads and flowers.

For the past 14 months though, he’s actually had to serve his customers.

COVID dealt a death blow to many small businesses. Food services were particularly hard hit.

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

But Lloyd knows his onions. As soon as the pandemic shut his doors last March, he pivoted. His Double L Market pivoted immediately to curbside.

“We didn’t dither,” Lloyd says. “We transformed completely into a warehouse.”

Unlike many markets, he did not create a website for customers to order from.

Double L Market is always in season (Photo/Ed Simek)

Working with Apple (the company, not the fruit), he devised a text-based ordering system. Rather than clicking items into a virtual “shopping cart,” Double L developed a friendly, interactive conversation-style experience.

Customers texted what they wanted. Armed with iPhones and iPads, employees filled orders. If they had a question — “What kind of berries exactly?” or “We’re out of those potatoes; what would you like instead?” — they texted immediately.

Employees texted again when the order was ready for pickup.

At first, customers simply sent lists: “2 blueberries, 1 strawberry, 3 broccoli crowns, 4 honey crisps, 2 little gems, 1 cauliflower white, 1 baby bok choy.”

Soon, they started adding messages: “2 raspberries, 2 chicken empanadas, 1 piece of salmon. You rock!”

One customer asked Lloyd to recommend items. “Peaches?” he asked. “Sure! 4 is good!” came the reply.

“It felt like texting a friend,” Lloyd says. That makes sense. Most of his customers already were friends.

Vendors got into texting mode quickly too:

Last weekend — for the first time since March 2020 — Lloyd opened Double L Market’s doors back up.

Many customers were grateful. Perhaps 20%, he estimates, had never been inside before. They’re new arrivals to town, who know his store only through curbside.

They are thrilled to finally roam the aisles.

Customers who knew Double L from before were impressed too. The long shutdown proved to be a good time to paint and freshen up the interior.

But other people like the convenience of texting and pickup. They want to keep shopping that way. So Lloyd will continue offering the option.

He’ll also still deliver to local customerx who for any reason cannot come to him.

Back in business — indoors.

Lloyd’s quick pivot enabled him to keep all his employees, throughout the entire 14 months. He did not even need a PPP loan to keep going.

In fact, he says, he even hired out-of-work restaurant employees to help.

Lloyd left nothing to chance. During the darkest times, he divided his crews into 2. Each worked separate days. That way, if one was diagnosed with COVID, only half of his staff would have to quarantine.

The “time off” — Lloyd was on only one crew — offered him time to start a blog. He writes deftly about food, in all its forms: what’s at the market, how it got there, and much more.

As he spoke about the past 14 months, Lloyd grew emotional. He’s proud of what he and his employees accomplished, gratified at the loyalty and trust his customers showed, and happy to be back.

All his life he’s watched farmers sow, nurture and reap.

Now it’s his turn.

Pic Of The Day #1062

Double L Market is always in season (Photo/Ed Simek)

Double L Market Owner Angered By Health District Dispute

Lloyd Allen is one of the most chill people I know.

The owner of Double L Market has cultivated a loyal clientele. Customers love his fresh, local, organic, free-range, gluten-free and grass-fed meats, produce, seafood and more. They come not just to buy, but to banter with him.

He’s been operating for more than 30 years, first in actual farm stands, now in a Post Road store next to Calise’s.

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

But yesterday Lloyd was upset. Also angry, appalled and disheartened.

His voice shook as he told me that 2 weeks earlier, the Westport Weston Health District inspected Double L, and gave him a 94.

On Wednesday, another inspection. Another grade of 94.

But then, he said, he got a call. There was a problem with labeling, he was told. He said he’d be in at 8:45 yesterday morning.

At the meeting he was told: “You’ve got a serious problem. We’re going to close you down today.”

The problem was with labels on salsa, tomato sauce and canned peppers. They did not include the weight, or indicate where the products came from.

He asked exactly what was needed to rectify the problem. “I don’t know,” a young inspector told him.

She said the state Department of Consumer Protection might be involved too.

Lloyd told “06880” that Double L buys from producers with HACCP food safety accreditation — “and you can’t get higher than that.”

Westport Weston Health District inspectors at Double L Market. (Photo/Lloyd Allen)

The WWHD inspector came into his store, and embargoed everything she said was improperly labeled.

Lloyd does not dispute the need for proper labeling. His issue, he says, is that he was not told earlier about the issue, offered a chance to rectify it — or even given the proper information on what he needed to do.

He is also furious at the way he was treated.

“They showed me no respect,” he said. “I’ve been here for 35 years. I have the healthiest, freshest stuff in town. I love local. I work with big farmers and small farmers.

“I’ve made this town better. I’ve worked with so many kids. The Health Department used to come in, and tell me what was needed. This time they just came in and acted, without any respect at all.”

He worried yesterday he might be shut down, right before Mother’s Day.

Double L Market is still open — though there are empty shelves where his salsa, tomato sauce and canned peppers used to be.

Empty shelves at the Double L market.

“It’s like I was walking down the street with my baby, and someone suddenly grabbed me and shook the baby,” Lloyd said.

“That’s how I feel about the way I was treated.”

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.

Nothin’ But Snack Bars

Most people don’t make a connection between poison ivy and muffins.

Then again, most people are not Jerri Graham.

She and her daughter had recently moved to Westport from Taiwan.  Jeri got a job at Greenwood Press — and a bad case of poison ivy.

Prednisone “made me crazy,” she recalls.  She started baking muffins — lots of them.  Soon her creations — including a delicious “Westport Morning Muffin” with flax seed, whole wheat flour, fruits and vegetables — were being sold at Doc’s.

Jeri envisioned a muffin delivery service that would “revolutionize breakfast around the world.”

Then she ate a supermarket granola bar.  It was nothing but oats, and a few “well-calculated” pieces of nuts and dried fruit.

That was Jerri’s aha! moment.

“I’d been duped,” she recalls.  “There was no flavor.”

Jerri Graham at Christie's Farmer's Market. (Photo by Lynn U. Miller)

Oats, she says, “are a blank canvas.  You can add anything to them” — nuts, seeds, fruits, spices.  There is no limit to creativity.

“If you pair almonds with cherries, that’s different than if you use cashews or pecans,” she says.  “My brain is constantly spinning with possibilities.”

She started making the kind of bars she wanted, for herself and her daughter.

She shared them.  Today she makes 62 varieties of snack bars.  And counting.

Jerri says the reaction to her bars has been “incredibly positive.  People are excited by all the different tastes and textures.  They’re tired of being tricked.”

Nothin’ But — as in “nothin’ but the best real snacks available” — are baked in a Post Road caterer’s kitchen.  They’re sold at Doc’s, Double L Market, Arogya, Cocoa Michelle, and 2 farmer’s markets (Thursdays at the Imperial Avenue lot, Sundays at Christie’s).

They’re also available at the Norwalk-Rowayton, Brickwalk and Greenfield Hill farmer’s markets.

Soon you can buy them at Yura in New York City, and Golden Pear in the Hamptons.

But not at Stop & Shop.

“Everyone’s trying to be the next Bear Naked,” she says, of the Fairfield County granola mega-succes story.

“I don’t want to follow that path.  We’d go to Dean & Deluca-type stores — if we ever did those at all.”

Jerri’s mission is to “change snacking.  America does not need to run on Dunkin’.

“Convenience stores sell snack bars, but they’re right next to cigarettes and Oreos.  That’s not the impact I want.  Almonds are better for you than butter cream.”

For now, Jerri’s goal is to “stay focused.”  The 1-woman operation is ready to hire people.

Meanwhile, she’s working on a blueberry-based “brain bar.”  A percentage of sales will go to Alzheimer’s research.

“If you don’t have a reason for what you’re doing, there’s no reason to do it,” she says.

And then she’s off to the kitchen, to make the donuts snack bars.