Four years ago, Suited.co opened on Railroad Place.
Owner Ryan Meserole was passionate about selling high-quality, hand-crafted suits.
He figured his location — directly opposite the train station — was perfect for his target audience. Men could stop in on their way to or from the city. Surrounded by restaurants, coffee places and cool shops like Indulge by Mersene, he loved the vibrant neighborhood.
Ryan believed in giving back. He donated to local charities and national relief efforts. He gave discounts — even freebies — to less-fortunate local teenagers, and inner-city youngsters.
Recently, he rebranded Suited.co as Quentin Row. His commitment to the community was as strong as ever.
But in just a few years, the community has changed.
Fewer people commute to and from New York, Ryan says — a function of both the changing nature of work, and the decline of Metro-North. And with longer train rides (and regular delays), anyone who can take a town car to the city is now driven in.
Even a small change like Goldman Sachs’ recently relaxed, more informal dress code has affected his business.
In addition — and crucially — Ryan says that Railroad Place has changed.
The closing of Commuter Coffee cut sharply into foot traffic. And — partly because of family issues — the long-promised renaissance of the area near the train station has stalled.
For all those reasons, Ryan will close his store at the end of May.
But he’s not closing his business. He’s redirecting it toward a new, more flexible version of itself. Call it Quentin Row 2.0.
A 22-foot mobile showroom will travel to area train stations, festivals and the like.
Ryan will also refocus his efforts online. He promises that in cyberspace, he’ll still offer the “concierge service” customers appreciate.
He will still have a physical presence. When Sconset Square renovations are complete, Ryan will share space with Gino, his long-time tailor.
Ryan will also offer private appointments in his Riverside Avenue home.
He could have gone to the new Norwalk mall, Ryan notes. But he insists that a town like Westport deserves a “niche heritage brand” like his.
He feels sad leaving Railroad Place. He put a lot of money into his renovations, and he knows the loss of a store leaves a void.
He says the new tenant is an office, not retail.
“I don’t think that’s what the street was designed for,” he says. “But people shop differently now.”
Still, he knows his new operation will give him a better work/life balance. Since the coffee shop closed, he’s sat in his store and watched foot traffic dwindle.
He thinks little things could make a big difference. If the MTA put its ticket machines in the station house, instead of on the platforms, “people would see the stores,” Ryan says. “Now, they don’t know we’re here.”
Yet for Quentin Road, time has run out.
“But I still love Westport,” he says. “I’m not going anywhere.”
Except in his new, 22-foot mobile showroom. Coming soon to an event — or train station — near you.