Alert readers know that “06880” is no fan of the trend that chain stores have overrun Westport. Schaefer’s, Sally’s Place, Selective Eye = good. Banana Republic, Lululemon, Sunglass Hut = bad, if you want to reduce it to that.
But 2 experiences — in the same day — show that we should not paint all chain stores with the same (Max’s Art Supplies, RIP) brush.
This report comes from a reader who wishes to remain anonymous. First he went to Cohen’s Fashion Optical in Compo Shopping Center. A lens had popped out of his glasses.
A woman told him to have a seat. A few minutes later she reappeared. It was all fixed — at no charge. They never asked if he’d bought his frame there, or if he’d even set foot in the store before. It was on the house.
Next stop: Lux Bond & Green, to replace a broken rubber watchband on his Timex heart monitor watch.
An employee spent a fair amount of time trying to find one to match the width and curve of the band, but to no avail. So she recommended another store in town — but added that it was closed that day.
Two summers ago, I blogged about downtown stores that kept their doors wide open. The temperature was not quite 90, but from 1 spot on Main Street I spotted 4 places blasting air conditioning onto the sidewalk.
The post drew 99 comments. In true “06880” fashion they ranged from “I can’t believe they’re wasting so many energy” to “it’s a free country, they can do whatever they want” (with side trips into “our electric grid is outmoded” and “it’s the Gulf War, stupid”).
This afternoon, with the temperature 94 degrees and climbing, I went downtown again.
I am sure you will be stunned to hear that, this time, even more stores had their doors flung wide.
My 1st stop was Blue Mercury. In 2010 it was part of my Gang of Four. Two years later, the only thing that’s changed is that it’s spawned a sister shop, Mercury 2, across the street — and both Blue Mercurys pump cold air basically at each other.
One of the 2 Blue Mercurys. This is on the east side of Main Street.
When I asked why, a manager handed me a card with a toll-free number. I called, and the pert phone-answerer said, “Great! We just had a grand opening there!”
But when I asked why the doors were open, she handed me off to several people. I wound up speaking to someone in corporate communications, who promised that someone else — “most likely our director of operations” — will call back. I’ll let you know if/when he/she does.
Next door, BCBG had its doors open 2 years ago. Nothing has changed, except its name: it’s now the Scrabble-like BCBGMaxazria.
I strolled past the wide-open Shoes ‘N’ More, and up to Brooks Corner. Lux Bond & Green‘s doors were ajar.
Before and after, at Williams-Sonoma.
So was one door at Williams-Sonoma‘s. When I asked why, a woman said, “I just came in. Someone probably opened it. Maybe it’s more inviting to customers?”
She paused. “Maybe I should shut it, to keep air in.”
She paused again. “I’ll do that. I’ll shut it.”
And she did. Twenty minutes later, it remained closed.
Across the street, at Jack Wills, I told a young guy I was doing a story on stores that kept the a/c on, in 94-degree heat.
“Cool!” he said, both non-ironically and bizarrely. “We like to pump the air.”
But when I asked again about air-conditioning Main Street, he said, “Well, it’s a big front door. Would you come in if it were closed?”
I thought, you mean, the way people do in October and December and April? Instead, I said, “Actually, I’m more likely to shop at store that doesn’t waste energy.”
“That’s interesting!” he replied.
The heavy door at Jack Wills.
For the record: A number of stores kept their doors closed. The list included Banana Republic — a change from 2010 — as well as Gap, J. Crew, Coach and Vineyard Vines.
Also Brooks Brothers Men. (Brooks Brothers Women was open, though. Go figure.)
Oh, yeah: Westport Pizzeria’s doors were shut too. And they’ve got an oven.
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