Tag Archives: Westport Downtown Merchants Association

Downtown Dons Pink

On Thursday, Westport will be in the pink.

The Westport Downtown Merchants Association is partnering with Pink Aid, for the town’s 1st-ever Pink Day. The event draws attention to the needs of women with breast cancer — and highlights the merchants who support that organization.

Pink ribbons were provided by Party Harty, and tied along Main Street by students in Staples and Weston High Schools’ Pink Aid Clubs.

Students tie pink ribbons along Main Street.

Several businesses — including the Cashmere Sale, Kerri Rosenthal, Devon Woodhill, Bungalow, Benefit, WEST, Amis and Bill Taibe’s restaurants — donated items to Pink Aid’s major fundraiser, held earlier this month at Mitchells of Westport.

Other merchants have held, or will hold, sales events to benefit Pink Aid. Still others gave gift cards and small items to Pink Aid’s gift bags. The complete list is below.

If you’re downtown and see pink, now you know why.

In fact, why not take a special trip there? The merchants have done their part. Now we can do ours.

A Pink Aid display at Simon Pearce.

2017 Downtown Merchants Association members supporting or donating to Pink Aid CT

  • ·         Alegre
  • ·         Athleta
  • ·         Bartaco
  • ·         Benefit Cosmetics
  • ·         Blow Dry Westport
  • ·         The Brownstone
  • ·         Bungalow
  • ·         Dovecote
  • ·         Eileen Fisher
  • ·         Green & Tonic
  • ·         HB Home
  • ·         JLRocks
  • ·         Kerri Rosenthal – The Concept Shop
  • ·         Organachs Farm to Skin
  • ·         Pure Barre Westport
  • ·         Scout & Molly’s
  • ·         Serena & Lily
  • ·         She La La
  • ·         Shoe-Inn
  • ·         Simon Pearce
  • ·         Soleile Toile
  • ·         Specs of Westport
  • ·         The Spotted Horse Tavern
  • ·         Starbucks
  • ·         Steven Mancini Salon
  • ·         Swoon
  • ·         The Granola Bar of Westport
  • ·         The Plumed Serpent
  • ·         Theory
  • ·         WEST
  • ·         Westport Country Playhouse
  • ·         White Birch Studio
  • ·         Westport Police Depasrtment

Past supporters, donors or sponsors

  • ·         Vince
  • ·         Steve Mancini Salon
  • ·         Splash of Pink
  • ·         Matt Bernson
  • ·         Leifer Properties
  • ·         L’Occitane en Provence
  • ·         Dyptique
  • ·         Cotelac
  • ·         Clypso St. Barts

You Want Vermin With That Order?

It’s a regular “06880” feature. Not as frequent as bad/entitled/obnoxious parkers, but still annoyingly often.

The gross garbage dump in Parker Harding Plaza.

The most recent “06880” post was on June 14.

One of the 18 comments was from the Downtown Merchants Association:

The Westport DMA has developed a detailed plan for improving downtown maintenance, where a majority of the costs will be handled by businesses, with some contribution from the Town for public areas, including roads, public parking lots and public buildings. This is to include both summer and winter maintenance, as well as trash.

The Town portion is still under discussion, made more challenging in the current budget climate. However, a specific plan to vastly improve the trash situation and general appearance for Parker Harding is in an advanced stage of collaborative approval (which will include a consolidated and upgraded trash area) and hopefully will be accomplished this summer.

Well, summer has come and gone. This was the view an hour ago:

Oh — you want a closeup of whatever it is the arrow is pointing to?

Yep, that’s some form of vermin.

Just the thing to enjoy with your grande vanilla bean creme frappuccino.

Green Marine

Falls seems like it’s finally here.

Last week though, temperatures soared into the 90s. And Staples High School students Abi Genser and Michael Lederer dropped in on downtown businesses whose wide-open doors spewed air conditioning onto the (large empty) sidewalks.

Excuses ranged from “the head office says it increases business” to “I’m not the owner. I don’t make those decisions.”

Abi and Michael were not impressed. They’re members of Westport’s new Earth Guardians group. Along with the Westport Green Task Force, Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Merchants Association, they encourage businesses to keep doors closed when the air conditioning — or heat — is on.

Of all the stores they visited — accompanied by Earth Guardians founder Carla Paiva and Green Task Force member Pippa Bell Ader — only one had its door closed.

Kudos to Marine Layer!

To be honest, I’d never heard of this store before Pippa emailed me.

But their closed door will make me more — not less — interested in checking it out.

Blues, Views & BBQ Festival Rocks On

Huge crowds enjoyed yesterday’s opening of the 10th annual Blues, Views & BBQ Festival, at the Levitt Pavilion and Westport Library parking lot.

Rain kept attendance down early today. But as soon as the drops stopped, folks came. The lawn and lot were filled nicely from 2:30 p.m. on.

Organizers pushed the schedule back slightly. Anders Osbourne is now set to play at 5 p.m. Deep Banana Blackout follows at 7.

There’s still time to enjoy one of Westport’s greatest music-and-more events. For details, click here.

The Levitt Pavilion main stage offers some of the best music anywhere….

… while in the library parking lot, future stars from the School of Rock play.

For the 4th year in a row, Dane Tilghman came from Pennsylvania with his blues-oriented art.

These 2 fans enjoyed the music while sitting on the Levitt lawn …

but the mud didn’t deter this guy from dancing.

What’s a Blues, Views & BBQ Fest without food from Bobby Q’s?

It wasn’t quite Houston. A few puddles did not stop this youngster from enjoying one of the attractions in the library parking lot.

Meanwhile, Hurricane Harvey was not far from organizers’ minds. The Westport Downtown Merchants Association collected food and clothing for victims, and donated proceeds from yesterday’s BBQ cooking competition to relief efforts.

Main Street Merchants To Earth: Screw You!

The 1st selectman endorses it. The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce does too.

So do the Westport Downtown Merchants Association, Green Task Force and Earth Guardians, a Toquet Hall-based youth group.

All back an initiative asking local businesses to keep their doors closed on hot summer days. Air conditioning is a major contributor to carbon dioxide emissions that lead to global warming.

And open doors are a major contributor to wasteful air conditioning.

Yet despite reminders from all those folks, this was the scene last Saturday on Main Street:

(Photo/Bob Mitchell)

That’s 3 stores in a row with wide-open doors — including Blue Mercury, which has been doing it since at least 2010.

There were many more as well.

I know the usual suspects will jump into the “Comments” section, declaring that unless there’s a law against it, stores can do whatever they want to attract customers.

Of course they can.

But that doesn’t mean they should.

Book It! Main Street Art Show A Smash

With spectacular weather — and a wise move from Parker Harding Plaza, back to its original Main Street roots — this weekend’s 44th annual Fine Arts Festival drew twice last year’s numbers.

An eclectic mix of 148 artists, sculptors, photographers and jewelry makers — and the addition of new dining options — drew raves from longtime festival-goers and newcomers alike. The event is sponsored by the Westport Downtown Merchants Association.

Every artist has a specialty.

Elm Street was also filled with artists. These two had natural shade.

Gloria McRoberts specializes in sculptural weaving.

The alley next to the old Westport Pizzeria was transformed into al fresco dining.

Sculptures filled the street in front of Banana Republic.

A few steps from the art show, the Westport Library sponsored its annual ginormous Book Sale. 

In a world filled with Kindles and iPhones, it’s nice to know thousands of people still love to read books. 

And listen to CDs and vinyl, which were also on sale.

Like those tens of thousands of books — all could be had for a song.

The Westport Library book sale covers every category imaginable. Inside, there was even a sign marked “Beatles.” (It was for books, not music.)

The many long tables were perfect for browsing.

The hardest part of the Westport Library is choosing.

The art show and book sale were only 2 of many events in Westport this weekend.

And there’s much more to come. Happy summer!

Downtown Merchants Kick It Up A Notch

You may have noticed the signage downtown. Perhaps you saw the hanging baskets, the holiday snowflakes or the Christmas tree near Starbucks.

westport-dmaAll are part of recent initiatives by the Westport Downtown Merchants Association. Since welcoming new president Randy Herbertson this summer — and installing a fresh team including a marketing manager and events coordinator — the sometimes active, occasionally moribund, often ill-defined group has worked hard to make its mark on Main Street and nearby.

“We’re here to be the merchants’ advocate,” Herbertson — whose fulltime gig is running a Church Street multimidia design and promotion firm, The Visual Brand — says.

“We’re taking ourselves up a notch.”

The WDMA has addressed nagging issues like the Parker Harding dumpster — long a pig sty — with new enclosures and daily maintenance.

The organization has spoken with the Public Works and Parks & Recreation departments to ensure clear lines of responsibility for downtown upkeep.

Merchants are responsible for keeping their sidewalks clean. The WMDA is making sure they do it well.

Merchants are responsible for keeping their sidewalks clean. The WMDA is making sure they do it well.

Some of that sounds mundane. But small stuff pays off big time, in areas like public perception.

The WDMA has vowed to protect the new sidewalks. Each merchant is in charge of keeping them clean, but “everyone has different standards,” Herbertson notes. His group is working on a collaborative plan.

The Downtown Merchants Association may be best known for event sponsorship. Moving forward, Herbertson says, “We’ll try to focus on what matters most to merchants.”

The popular carriage rides, Santa visits and singing groups will continue this holiday season, for example. But the WMDA will offer gift wrapping and craft activities for children.

Plus this: valet parking.

It began on Friday, and continues every Saturday and Sunday through Christmas (plus Friday, December 23). The valet station is at the corner of Main and Elm Streets. Cost is $5 per car (plus optional tip).

Last year, horse-drawn carriages clomped throughout downtown.

Last year, horse-drawn carriages clomped throughout downtown.

The Fine Arts Festival may be relocated. The Blues, Views & BBQ Fest will be “better than ever,” Herbertson says.

A Fashion and Beauty Week is in the works. 80% of downtown merchants are involved in those fields, he explains.

The WMDA has just launched a new website. It offers more information on stores promotions and hours, along with a robust calendar.

Meanwhile, the merchants’ group is already looking ahead to next year. In 2017, Herbertson promises, the new trees on and around Main Street will be mature enough to decorate.

1 Parker Harding Problem Solved. 999 To Go.

Our long national nightmare is over.

Okay, maybe not. But at least Parker Harder Plaza’s dumpster problem has been solved.

For several years, the big green receptacles near Starbucks have spilled garbage, attracted rodents, and sent this message to downtown visitors: “Blech!

parker-harding-dumpster

No more!

Recently the Westport Downtown Merchants Association added a cleanup crew, initiated pest control, helped store owners review protocol and “addressed regular abusers.”

Ta da!

parker-harding-dumpster

Work is not finished. Still ahead: installation of upgraded and “significantly more attractive” enclosures.

We won’t hold our breath.

But at least while we don’t, we won’t hold our noses when we want some fresh food at Freshii.

The Latest On Lee Papageorge

About a year ago, Joel Smilow went to Oscar’s for lunch.

A longtime Westporter, and the former chairman and CEO of Playtex, he’s also a noted philanthropist. He made a transformative gift to Yale-New Haven Hospital’s Smilow Cancer Hospital, and donated medical research buildings at NYU and the University of Pennsylvania (among many other endowments).

Lee Papageorge — the popular owner of Oscar’s Delicatessen — was struck by a sudden thought.

“After all you’ve done for people,” Lee asked Joel, “has anyone ever bought you lunch?”

Lee was happy to do so.

Two months ago, Lee received a tough diagnosis: lung cancer. It was particularly devastating because he never smoked — not once in his life.

Lee is now undergoing immunotherapy — at the Smilow Cancer Hospital.

“Those people are fantastic. They’re geniuses,” Lee says with awe. “They know how to talk to you. They treat you so well. They’re the whole package.”

Oscar's owner Lee Papageorge.

Oscar’s owner Lee Papageorge.

Lee — who is 65 — has been a part of Oscar’s since the actual Oscar hired him at  16. Working in the original store — a few doors down Main Street, now part of Vince Clothing — Lee earned $1 an hour. “I had $20 in my wallet. I felt fat!” he says.

(Lee was not the 1st Papageorge who fed Westporters downtown. His grandfather and father opened the Club Grill in 1927. It later was known as Muriel’s, on the Post Road at Taylor Place across from what is now Tiffany.)

In 1967, Joe Milici bought Oscar’s (from Oscar). Lee kept working there. Four years later, he became a 50% partner. They moved to their present location soon thereafter.

The ’70s and ’80s were exciting times on Main Street, Lee recalls. There was always something going on.

He and store owners like Bob Hertzel, Stan Klein, Drew Friedman and Dan Coughlin were prime movers behind the Westport Downtown Merchants Association. They loved the area, the town and their customers. They supported each other, too.

Now, Oscar’s is the oldest — and last — “mom-and-pop” store on Main Street.

Oscar's Delicatessen (Photo/Videler Photography)

Oscar’s Delicatessen (Photo/Videler Photography)

As he battles cancer, Lee has been buoyed by the support of “very strong women.” Susan Gold, of the Westport Historical Society, has been particularly helpful.

Since he was 16, Lee has been a part of Oscar’s. And Oscar’s has been a part of downtown.

Lee’s many customers — and friends — send all their best wishes to him.

Artwork, Books — And Miggs Burroughs — Downtown This Weekend

Some things about the Westport Fine Arts Festival never change.

Favorite artists, sculptors, jewelry-makers and photographers return, with familiar work in an intriguing variety of styles. Westporters and visitors flock downtown; there is music and food. The weather is hot.

Some things are always different. There is new artwork. New bands play.

This year too, the Westport Library‘s new artist-in-residence lends his presence — and talents — to the 43rd annual Fine Arts Festival (Saturday and Sunday, July 16-17, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Parker Harding Plaza).

Miggs Burroughs' official Westport Library "geek" portrait. (Photo/Pam Einarsen)

Miggs Burroughs’ official Westport Library “geek” portrait. (Photo/Pam Einarsen)

Miggs Burroughs co-presents his own artwork — along with others from the Westport Artists Collective — including Nina Bentley, Trace Burroughs, Linn Cassetta, Wilhelmina de Haas and Tammy Windsor.

Miggs will man an “Artist-in-Residence” booth, answering questions and providing information about the library’s connection with local artists, town arts organizations and events.

The Fine Arts Festival — sponsored by the Westport Downtown Merchants Association — is one of the town’s signature summer events.

Of course, so is the Library’s annual book sale. It runs this weekend too: Saturday, July 16, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday, July 17, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Monday, July 18, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (all items half price); Tuesday, July 19, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. (all items free; contributions welcome).

The 2 events are big, fun and complementary.

Just think: It’s the Library’s biggest event of the year, and they share their artist-in-residence with the Arts Festival.

(For more information on the Fine Arts Festival, click here. To learn more about the Library’s book sale, click here.)

A mime and artist, both hard at work during the Westport Fine Arts Festival.

A mime and artist, both hard at work during the Westport Fine Arts Festival.

You can get just about anything at the Westport Library's book sale.

You can get just about anything at the Westport Library’s book sale.