Tag Archives: Westport Downtown Merchants Association

Surprise! Steinkraus Bridge Gets Holiday Lights

Westporters love the American flags lining the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge downtown. Every jUNe Day (and UN Day), the bridge flies flags from all over the globe.

And every Christmas, the well-traveled bridge over the Post Road is … not lit. A golden opportunity — decorating downtown with holiday lights — is lost.

But wait!

Colleen Angione-Wiedmann — community and communications director for the Westport Downtown Merchants Association — just returned from the New Haven state Department of Transportation office. She’s holding a permit to light the bridge this year.

And … she hopes it will be done to coincide with tomorrow’s tree lighting at Town Hall (5 p.m.).

She’s just waiting for ace electrician Jim Izzo to confirm that he’s finished — and for the town to approve the installation of 4 outlets on the lampposts on both sides of the bridge (so there are no unappealing extension cords).

With those outlets — and the DMA’s purchase of lights — the bridge will offer a wonderful, warm welcome this year.

And every year to come.

This is what the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge looks like most of the time. This holiday season, the view will be different.(Photo by Lynn U. Miller)

PS: Kudos to Tracy May in the DOT office. She came here recently to meet with the WDMA and the electrician, to expedite the process. 

Downtown Gears Up For The Holidays

Valet parking, horse and carriage rides, and a Nutcracker Festival.

Those are some upcoming holiday offerings, thanks to the Westport Downtown Merchants Association.

For the 2nd year in a row, valets are available on Black Friday, then every Saturday at the Main Street and Elm intersection, from noon to 6 p.m. It’s $5 car (plus a tip!).

Horse and carriage rides return — thanks in part to the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce — on Saturday, December 16 (11 a.m. to 3 p.m.). Boarding is at Bedford Square. There’s a stop for warm beverages across from Serena & Lily, courtesy of the Westport Historical Society.

The only thing missing is snow. (Photo courtesy of WestportNow.com)

December 16 is also the date for the Connecticut Theater’s Nutcracker Festival (9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.). Christ & Holy Trinity Church’s Branson Hall will be filled with Nutcracker Tea seatings, a Sugar Plum Fairy, and a Snowflake Boutique with local businesses and artisans. There are 2 child-friendly performances of “Land of the Sweets” at the Seabury Center next door. Santa arrives (on a fire truck) at 9 a.m. to kick off the festivities. Click here for tickets.

Meanwhile, merchants are vying for WDMA “Best Holiday Window” prizes in 3 categories: national chains, independent retailers, and restaurants and cafes. (For inspiration, just look across the river at the west bank windows.)

Meanwhile, all of Westport wants to know: What about the lights?

The WDMA planned to buy new ones this year. Unfortunately, bad weather at another holiday event — the Labor Day Blues, Views & BBQ Festival — cut into proceeds. Lights are now in next year’s budget.

But here’s another light story — with a dark side.

A couple of days ago WDMA representatives went out to measure the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge. They left a big box of 48-foot lights on the south side, near the railing.

When they came back, they were gone. It took about 7 minutes for someone to steal Westport’s holiday lights.

Bah, Humbug!

Holiday lights, 2015.

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.