Tag Archives: Savvy + Grace

COVID-19 Roundup: Call 211 For Test Questions; Small Business Loans Available; Takeout Restaurants Listed; New Transfer Station Rules; Fitness, Merchant News And More

COVID-19 testing is now available at several locations around Connecticut, and can be accessed through its 2-1-1 hotline — with certain caveats (see below).

The Westport Weston Health District’s initial contact trace testing is completed. They have one final round to test for those who were part of the initial investigation. It is only open to those already contacted directly by the WWHD.

Residents who feel symptoma of COVID-19 should stay home, and call or email their primary care provider with questions. Residents can call the state 2-1-1 line if instructed by their primary care provider to arrange testing, or if they have questions about being tested. A series of questions will be asked by a 2-1-1 representative to determine if testing is appropriate.

WWHD director Mark Cooper says, “It is no longer about parties, schools, religious institutions, employment, etc. Residents should assume that COVID-19 is everywhere and that anyone could have it. It has been shown that some people can have the virus with no symptoms at all. The number of COVID-19 cases in Westport and the state are going up, and they will continue to increase.”

Locally, the WWHD has contacted all those it became aware of who had contact with a COVID-19 positive person involved in the initial outbreak, and who it had tested.

Those who tested positive for COVID-19 are being advised to practice strict voluntary isolation. They are instructed not to go out, but to stay home. If they require something and must go out, they should do so during times there are fewer people out. Masks and gloves should be worn so as not to spread the virus.

Yesterday’s announcement about closing restaurants, bars, and theaters is a step towards implementing social distancing. Day care facilities continue to remain open. Day care facilities provide essential services, and the WWHD is working closely with them to reinforce the message that it is incumbent upon them to keep their staff and children safe. They have been requested to use thermometers and practice hygienic measures. If a staff member or child becomes infected by COVID-19, the WWHD will close that facility.  It is in the facilities’ and the parents’ best interest to keep sick children at home.


Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce director Matthew Mandell just spoke with the director of the Connecticut Small Business Administration.

Mandell reports that loans of up to $2 million are now available. They can be used for most expenses: payroll, accounts payable, fixed costs. They do not cover business losses.

Interest is 3.25% (profit businesses) and 2.75% (non-profit businesses). Funds come directly from the US Treasury, not a bank.

All businesses with a physical presence in the state are available. Applicants must show a credit history and ability to pay back the loan.

Click here for an application, or call 800-659-2955, or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.

The Connecticut Small Business Development Center can assist in filling out and filing applications. Click here for more information.


The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce has also updated its list of restaurants offering curbside and takeout delivery. Click here to see.


To facilitate social distancing at the transfer station, residents may no longer bring bulky waste items that require assistance.

While the transfer station remains open, personnel will refrain from coming into contact with individuals, or refuse brought there by residents. Thus, they will not assist residents with the removal or disposal of solid waste from vehicles.

Residents bringing smaller waste items to the transfer station must deposit their solid waste directly into the hopper, and discharge recycling directly in to the single stream bins. Plastic bags are not allowed in single stream recycling.

These protocols are in effect at least through March 31. During this time, all fees and collection of refuse tickets will be waived.

Bud Valiante is always helpful. But he can no longer help residents dispose of large items at the transfer station. (Photo/Cindy Mindell)


JoyRide is one of the many fitness centers closed by the coronavirus.

To fill the void, they offer free Instagram live classes all week at 10 a.m. Follow @joyridestudio, and click on in the morning.

Thanks to Forte.Fit, people can also take live 30-minute classes, or stream from a library of on-demand JoyRide cycling classes filmed over the past 2 years.

For those without a bike, there a number of JoyX boot camp classes, plus pilates, barre and yoga from other brands.

JoyRide offers Westporters a deeply discounted Forte.Fit membership (less than $8 a month). Use the code JOYRIDE89.

In addition, JoyRide has partnered with dietician Ilanit Blumenfeld to offer a 4-week nutrition and online fitness challenge. It starts March 23. Click here for info and sign-ups.


Annette Norton of Savvy + Grace asks customers and friends to follow her store on Facebook or Instagram.

She’ll post new merchandise daily. Her website will be ready to take orders on Friday. And she offers curbside delivery as well as shipping.


The other day, “06880” posted a story on 3 Westport teenagers who offer to run errands for older folks, and anyone else homebound by the virus.

A woman who took them up on their offer writes:

“I contacted them last night and got a text back from one that he would do my shopping. What a lifesaver! He kept in constant touch with me by text, went to 3 different stores (!) and spent about 3 hours.

“He delivered it all outside my door. I left him a check in an envelope with a generous tip, and proceeded to stock my house (after wiping stuff down with alcohol). We appreciate hearing about him, and what he did, very much.”

(From left): Ty Chung, Jonathan Lorenz, Luke Lorenz. — 3 very helpful guys.


Former 2nd selectman Avi Kaner continues to be interviewed by national media about the effects of COVID-19 on retail outlets. As co-owner of New York’s Morton Williams supermarket chain, he spoke today on Fox News about “senior hours” for shoppers, and contingency plans. Click below to see:


 

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)

Chamber Of Commerce: Support Local Stores — And Order Takeout!

In normal times, the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce supports local businesses in a variety of ways: networking opportunities, marketing help, community-building events.

These are not normal times.

As COVID-19 attacks the country, some of the first casualties are small businesses.

When the first line of defense is social distancing — with isolation close on its heels — the last things on people’s minds are shopping for anything beyond necessities, or dining out.

When “wash your hands!” is the new mantra, no one is in the mood to handle merchandise in a store, or be served a meal in close proximity to others.

But small businesses need customers to survive. Even a small drop in patronage can spell the difference between paying the rent, paying employees, and going under.

Savvy + Grace on Main Street, one of many locally owned stores throughout town. (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

The Chamber is marshaling its resources to help.

They encourage Westporters to continue to shop locally. In addition, they recommend buying gift cards, to use later.  You can do this not just for stores, but nail salons, yoga studios — you name it.

“This small act, if done by many, will help infuse capital to help them hold over until next month,” the Chamber says.

For residents hesitant about eating out, Chamber executive director Matthew Mandell suggests takeout orders. Most restaurants offer that option; some deliver. And there’s always Uber Eats.

Oh, yeah: Mandell reminds everyone that the Great Westport Soup Contest continues all month. There are some things the coronavirus just can’t conquer.

State Senator Will Haskell (left) and Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce director Matthew Mandell pick up takeout at Arezzo. Of course, the meal includes soup.

The Chamber also says: “If you have ideas on how to help our businesses, let us know. It takes a community to support a community.”

It’s easy. Click here for their website contact form. Email info@westportwestonchamber.com. Or call 203-227-9234.

PS: It’s not only small stores that are affected by COVID-19. Patagonia announced yesterday that it is closing all 37 stores — and its online operations — indefinitely.

PPS: The US Small Business Administration offers low-interest disaster loans to small businesses suffering substantial economic injury from the coronavirus. It must be requested by governors. It is unclear how far along in the process Connecticut’s request is. For more information, click here or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.

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.

Bookcycle’s Remarkable Journey

The Remarkable Bookcycle sure gets around.

The mobile free library — a fun, funky collaboration between writer Jane Green, her husband Ian Warburg, artist/longtime Remarkable Book Shop enthusiast Miggs Burroughs and former Staples High School student Ryan Peterson — made its way from the Green/Warburgs’ Owenoke home to Bedford Square last fall.

EJ Zebro — owner of TAP StrengthLab — pedaled it over to Main Street recently, where it greeted visitors to the 1st Outdoor Market behind Savvy + Grace.

But Jane — a client and friend of EJ’s — told him the Bookcycle had to be back at the beach for the summer.

He and his TAP staff jumped at the chance to help. When the weather was right, Lauren Leppla hopped on, and made her move.

Local director Amelia Arnold chronicled the trip. If you didn’t see her (and it) riding by, here you go:

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.

A Very Savvy Outdoor Market

Annette Norton loves downtown.

Annette Norton

As the owner of Savvy + Grace — that cool, funky, crammed-to-the-gills-gift-and-more shop tucked underneath Tavern on Main — she is proud to be on the same Main Street she used to visit as a girl.

She has gotten to know many fellow merchants. Like her, they believe in Main Street. They feel supported by their landlords.

So it pains Annette that on busy weekends, her store and the sidewalks are filled with non-Westporters.

People come from throughout Fairfield County, New York and as far as New Jersey to shop here, Annette says.

But they don’t come from around the corner.

Annette wants Westporters to rediscover downtown. So on Sunday, April 28, she’s organizing an Outdoor Market.

From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the private parking lot behind Savvy + Grace will be filled with local artisans. Nearly 2 dozen vendors will offer jewelry, terrariums, hand-designed greeting cards and more. Each has something special.

A few of the many items featured at the Outdoor Market.

One woman makes headbands for kids. Another paints faces on dolls. A non-profit will teach youngsters how to play instruments. Jane Green’s Remarkable Bookcycle will be there too (a few feet from its inspiration, the old Remarkable Book Shop).

There’s live music. Food. And plenty of fun.

Annette wants to show off the downtown she loves to a town that she thinks has turned sour on it. She wants people to mingle, browse, actually touch merchandise before buying instead of clicking a button online. She envisions a Westport version of a New York street market — with a special downtown touch.

She had no idea how much work it would be — finding vendors, getting permits, spreading the word — but it’s a labor of love. Once she gets Westporters downtown, she says, they’ll realize there’s a lot going on there.

The April 28 Outdoor Market will be held in the parking lot behind Savvy + Grace.

Annette’s landlord — Phillip Teuscher — has been very helpful. So has 2nd Selectman Jen Tooker, the liaison with the town. The Downtown Merchants Association is on board too.

“The Westport community is special,” she says. “After the flash floods, lots of people checked in to see if I was okay.” Now she wants those special people to come downtown not for a disaster, but to celebrate.

Annette is doing all she can to give back to downtown.

And if there’s any money left over when the Outdoor Market is done, she’ll keep giving back. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Westport Moms’ downtown playground initiative.

Main Street, Bleecker Street, And The Future Of Retail

A year and a half ago, the New York Times said Bleecker Street “looks like a Rust Belt city.”

On 5 blocks from Christopher Street to Bank Street, more than a dozen storefronts sat empty.

“Where textured-leather totes and cashmere scarves once beckoned to passers-by,” the paper reported, “the windows are now covered with brown construction paper, with ‘For Lease’ signs and directives to ‘Please visit us at our other locations.'”

This past Tuesday, the Times changed its tune.

A headline trumpeted “The Return of Bleecker Street.”

Eighteen months after its obituary, that same 5-block stretch of the West Village is “full of cool, vibrant people doing interesting things.”

What changed?

“Big-name luxury labels” are gone. Their storefronts are now filled with “young, digitally native brands….a well-curated mix of small brands with big ideas.” Many are run by women.

Hill House Home on Bleecker Street shows that a bit of creativity can produce wonders — and entice shoppers. (Photo/Stefania Curto for New York Times)

The sudden switch was no accident. Brookfield Properties bought 4 properties with 7 storefronts last April — “after exorbitant rents and a dearth of shoppers had driven out most of the businesses.” The new owners “immediately set to work rethinking the landscape.”

A creative strategy firm helped plan short-term leases — and revenue sharing.

Nell Diamond — the founder of bedding and bath retailer Hill House Home, an early arrival — did not believe retail was dead.

Bad retail is dead,” she clarified.

Bleecker Street’s new stores have become destinations — and community centers. They offer hot cocoa, and host podcasts, educational events and book club meetings. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand held a book signing at Lingua Franca, which sells cashmere sweaters hand-stitched with political slogans.

So why is “06880” highlighting a story about 10012?

Because some of the descriptions about last year’s Bleecker Street resonate with this year’s Main Street.

There are some great, fun stores downtown. You can lose yourself — and find nearly every gift you need — at Savvy + Grace, and The Brownstone. Bedford Square is filled with shops like Savannah Bee Company. Serena & Lily has brought new energy and creativity too.

Serena & Lily draws crowds of shoppers, just off Main Street.

But there are too many “windows covered with brown construction paper.” Landlords still hold out for sky-high rents, and refuse to consider options like short-term leases and revenue sharing.

I know, I know. Apples and oranges. Westport is not New York. Main Street will never have the foot traffic of Bleecker Street.

But we don’t need all those empty storefronts either.

If Greenwich Village can find a way out of its retail doldrums, our village can too.

(Click here for the full New York Times story. Hat tip: Michelle Sinclair Colman)