Tag Archives: Westport Downtown Merchants Association

Fine Arts Festival: Calling All Kids (And Adults)!

Westport’s Fine Arts Festival draws painters, photographers, sculptors — and art lovers — from around the country.

Plenty of residents browse stroll the stalls on Main Street.

But for a town that prides itself on its arts heritage, the number of local artists showing is limited.

This weekend (July 20 and 21, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.), we’ll get our fill.

Following last year’s successful pilot, the Artists Collective of Westport hosts 2 activity tents for kids and parents. Set up at at Brooks Corner, they’re a spot for kids to show off their creatives sides. Drawing, rock painting, origami — you name it, it’s there for children to do.

Action in last year’s Fine Arts Festival children’s tent.

New this year, the Collective will set up a giant Art Experience tent on Taylor Place, near Tiffany.

Over 20 Collective artists have volunteered. There will be several at a time, leading interactive projects and demonstrating techniques and media. Among them: clam shells, eggs, ceramics, murals, wire, camera-less photos, Band-Aids, folded paper, paint and more. Susan Fehlinger is the Collectivist in chair.

Westport Artists Collective co-founder Miggs Burroughs remembers when he was a boy. His father Bernie was president of the Westport Artists Club. Miggs, his brother Trace, and many other local kids grew up surrounded by art. Illustrators, cartoonists and painters seemed to be everywhere — always giving back to the community.

“I have a great sense of pride carrying out his legacy, in some small part, by helping the Collective keep the visual arts alive and lively for generations to come.”

Some of this art may be featured in the Experience Tent.

Miggs will be in the tent, at the 46th annual Fine Arts Festival. He and many others will be working with youngsters at  Brooks Corner too.

Odds are good they’ll inspire at least one young artist. In 2083 — at Westport’s 109th Festival — he or she may be giving back to the next generation, just like Miggs and his very talented colleagues will do this weekend.

(The Fine Arts Festival — and the Westport Artists’ Collective participation in it — is a partnership with the Westport Downtown Merchants Association. For more information on the Festival, click here.) 

Sidewalk Sale Opens. Sidewalk Closed.

Shoppers flocked to Main Street, the Post Road and Playhouse Square today, for the Westport Downtown Merchants’ Association’s annual sidewalk sale.

Meanwhile, pedestrians had a mini-nightmare on Elm Street:

No worries. There are plenty of bargains to be had on the many open sidewalks throughout downtown.

And next year — when the Elm Street sidewalk is finished, and the new retail building is filled — there will be one more addition to the sale.

Fine Arts Festival Focuses On Future

It’s not easy getting into the Westport Fine Arts Festival.

Every year, organizers pick 175 artists from around the country. Every mid-July they fill Main Street with their painting, photography, sculpture, fiber, printmaking, mixed media, glass, ceramics, jewelry, wood and graphics.

Making the cut is tough. So is the juried competition that follows.

But the festival sponsor — the Westport Downtown Merchants Association — recognizes its responsibility to nurture up-and-coming artists too.

So this year — on July 20 and 21 — the 46th annual event will embrace artists you may not yet have heard about.

But with the Fine Arts Festival’s help, you certainly will.

Plenty of art — and art lovers — at Westport’s Fine Arts Festival.

The WDMA is partnering with the Drew Friedman Foundation and Silvermine Arts Center to highlight 3 young artists.

The Foundation — part of the bequest of the late downtown landlord, restaurateur and arts lover — will award one $3,000 prize, and two more of $1,000 each. Applicants are artists currently enrolled in MFA programs, or recent graduates of one.

The first prize winner in the Emerging Artists Program — chosen by a professional jury — will also be exhibited at Silvermine. The 97-year-old New Canaan organization encompasses an art school, educational programs, artists’ guild, permanent collection and 5 galleries.

This year’s Fine Arts Festival outreach also includes the Westport Library.

In recent years, the Festival coincided with the annual book sale on Jesup Green. Recognizing that the audiences for art and books often overlaps — and that the downtown venues are complementary too — both institutions have strengthened their ties.

Now — with the Library’s transformation project complete — the Fine Arts Festival will set up a tent on the riverwalk. The young artists’ work will be exhibited there on Friday night. There’s a reception in the library’s new café.

They’re invited too to the established artists’ Saturday night reception. Also honored there: several high school student artists, who will receive $5,000 Drew Friedman Foundation scholarships.

WDMA president Randy Herbertson and Silvermine board vice chair Robin Jaffee Frank are excited about the chance to encourage — and showcase — emerging artists.

Check out their work next month. In a few years, you can say “I knew them when.”

(For more information on the Fine Arts Festival, click here.)

Eva Amurri — And More — At Fashionably Westport

It’s taken a few years.

But now the stars have aligned. And today the Downtown Merchants Association announces its next new community event: Fashionably Westport.

On Thursday, May 16 downtown and Playhouse Square merchants will sponsor a great runway show in Christ & Holy Trinity Church’s Branson Hall. Entertainment includes DJ/Joyride spin instructor Mo Prestor, and comedian Leah Bonnema.

All models are local, including 2nd Selectman Jennifer Tooker, 3rd Selectman Melissa Kane, TV host/author/realtor Mar Jennings, and several kids.

The next day — Friday, May 17 — is filled with storewide happenings and promotions, including pop-ups, trunk shows and giveaways.

Over 30 downtown retailers and salons have signed on so far.

So has Eva Amurri Martino. The very popular lifetstyle influencer (and “Happily Eva After” blogger) hosts and emcees the fashion show.

Eva Amurri Martino

She’s an inspired choice. She, her husband Kyle Martino and their 2 young kids have just moved downtown. Part of the reason they bought where they did was the chance to renovate a beautiful, historic home.

Eva epitomizes the WDMA’s mission: finding ways to enhance and stimulate downtown.

She says, “As a mom raising my kids in downtown Westport — and a blogger who loves all things fashion AND party — I am thrilled to be participating in Fashionably Westport to support WDMA, the local merchants, and Project Return. I hope everyone comes out to party with us!”

“We’ve wanted an event like this for a while — something downtown that’s focused on and produced with the support of our merchants, that enhances the community and draws people in,” adds WDMA marketing and membershiip director Colleen Wiedmann.

The non-profit has sponsored several well-attended events already, like the Fine Arts Festival and Westoberfest.

Which is why a business like The Grapevine — the new liquor store in the old Crossroads Ace Hardware space — asked to be part of Fashionably Westport even before they opened officially earlier this month.

And it’s why Garelick & Herbs — neither of whose 2 Westport locations are downtown — is donating catering services.

Speaking of donating: The Downtown Merchants Association is giving part of their proceeds — including a raffle — to Project Return, the Homes with Hope program serving young homeless women.

It’s become fashionable lately to knock downtown Westport. Next month, Fashionably Westport will strut its very cool stuff.

(Click here for tickets to the May 16 fashion show, and for more information on   all of Fashionably Westport — including participating merchants.)

 

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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.

You Can’t Make This Garbage Up!

Good news! The trash compactor in Parker Harding Plaza is up and running.

Bad news! Although the old garbage dumpsters were removed last night, some lazy, entitled dipshit deposited heaps of garbage in the exact spot where they used to be.

Yes, that’s the compactor there in the background.

But great news! When some poor volunteer from the Westport Downtown Merchants Association — or a good-hearted citizen — moves the trash a few yards away to where it should be, all they have to do is rummage through to find out which store or restaurant thinks this is a cool thing to do.

Then email dwoog@optonline.net. We’re happy to let our 10,000 readers know whose garbage this is.

Downtown Menorah Lighting Set For Monday

On Thursday, Westport lit the Town Hall Christmas tree.

This Monday, the Hanukkah menorah lights up downtown.

Four Jewish congregations — Beit Chaverim, Chabad of Westport, Temple Israel and The Conservative Synagogue — will gather at the corner of Main Street and Post Road East. Everyone — of any faith, or none at all — is invited too.

At 6:15 p.m. — on the 2nd night of Hanukkah — candles will be lit. Holiday songs will be sung, sufganiyot (jelly donuts) will be eaten, and dreidels will be spun.

Last year’s menorah lighting. (Photo courtesy of Melissa Kane)

It’s an important event.

“During a time in which we have seen a rise in anti-Semitism and darkness in the world, Hanukkah celebrates our survival against all odds,” says Rabbi Jeremy Wiederhorn of The Conservative Synagogue.

“But it also reminds us of our responsibility to increase the light in our world.”

The 5th annual celebration is organized in cooperation with the Westport Downtown Merchants Association.

 

“Local Love” Is Live!

Shopping, dining and enjoying Westport just got more fun.

And a lot cheaper.

This morning, the “Local Love” card went live. Here’s the deep dive.

Beginning this Friday (November 30), and running through 2 weekends, stores and restaurants are offering great discounts. Over 100 retailers, salons, fitness studios and dining spots participate.

They’re downtown, in Saugatuck, and up and down the Post Road. The entire list is below; just scroll down.

But “Local Love” is a lot more than just a $40 coupon book. A portion of the sales will help build a playground near the new library.

Card holders can also enjoy special “Local Love” events at Terrain, Savannah Bee, FRED and more.

The campaign is the brainchild of WestportMoms, partnered with town officials, the Westport Downtown Merchants Association and Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce.

WestportMoms — aka Megan Rutstein and Melissa Post — have done yeowoman’s work to involve a wide variety of local businesses in “Local Love.” Most retailers offer 20% off. Spas and salons give 15% discounts; restaurants, 10%.

Megan Rutstein and Melissa Post are the brains behind “Local Love.”

“Westport is special,” they say. “We need to keep this incredible town thriving. And there’s no better time to shop and dine than over the holidays.”

They’ve done all the groundwork. Now it’s your turn. Click here for your card. For more information, click here.

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Participating “Local Love” businesses and restaurants

Appliances & Electronics

  • Stanton Miles (Vacuums) – 20% off

Arts

  • Westport Country Playhouse – $10 off tickets to The Pianist of Willesden Lane

Clothing & Accessories

  • Anthropologie – 20% off (some brand exclusions apply)
  • Athleta – 20% off purchase of one item
  • Bella Bridesmaids – 20% off
  • Brownstone – 20% off purchases over $200 (one-time use only). Not eligible on sale items
  • Fred – 20% off; 10% off for members
  • Groove – 20% off
  • J. Crew – 20% off
  • Joie – 20% off full-priced items
  • Lesters – 20% off
  • LF Stores – 20% gift card for every $250 you spend
  • Lucy’s – 20% off
  • Madewell – 20% off purchases over $100; 30% off purchases over $250
  • Marine Layer – 20% off purchase over $300
  • Millie Rae’s – 20% off one-time use
  • Mitchell’s – 15% off (some brand exclusions apply)
  • Pink Lemon Blue Lime – 20% off
  • Quentin Row – 20% off men’s tailored made to order suits
  • Saavy & Grace – 20% off of scarves
  • Scout & Molly – 20% off
  • Shoe INN – 20% off
  • Soleil Toile – 20% off purchases over $150
  • Southern Tide – 20% off
  • Splash of Pink – 20% off
  • Sunglass Hut – 20% off purchases over $100; 25% off purchase over $200
  • Vineyard Vines – 20% off
  • West – 20% off full-priced items
  • Winged Monkey – 20% off

The Brownstone, on the 2nd floor of 142 Main Street, is one of many “Local Love” participants.

Fitness

  • Bar Method – 15% off a 10-pack or the New Client Special (or both)
  • CST 50 – 20% off a 5-pack (one-time use)
  • F45 Westport – 20% off Foundation Membership (normally $240); month-to month with no contract or commitment
  • Gym Source (fitness equipment) – 20% off
  • Joyride – 20% off a 10-pack
  • Pinnacle Health & Fitness – 15% off training packages
  • PureBarre – 20% off retail
  • Upper Deck Fitness – 20% off training sessions and/or a 10-pack

Hair & Nails

  • Amenity Nail & Spa – 20% off
  • Annette DeCarlo (at Sola Studios) – 20% off OR an add-on glaze
  • Blow Dry Westport – 15% off products and services
  • Greg & Tony’s Salon – 15% off products and services
  • Haus of Pretty – 20% off
  • Milena Ivanov (at Sola Studios) – 20% off color and glaze (new customers only)
  • Sharkey’s – 20% off retail products
  • Steven Mancini – 15% off products and services
  • Studio on Main – 15% off products and services; $90 for blow dry 3-pack
  • W Hair & Color – 15% off services (one-time use)
  • Westport Hair & Co – 15% off of blow outs
  • WHIP Salon – 15% off products and services

Health, Beauty & Spa

  • Avez Massage (at Sola Studios) – 15% off
  • Dominique Rochelle Beauty (at Sola Studios) – 15% off
  • European Wax – 15% off products and services
  • Eyebrow Girl – 20% off
  • Ideal Weight Loss – 15% off the first month’s supply of Ideal Protein meals at Ideal Weight Loss (“the Foodie’s Weight Loss program of choice”) if begin program by first week of January.
  • Lotus Cosmetic Surgery Center – 15% off all services, including Botox, Filler and /or cosmetic surgery (some restrictions apply)
  • Modern Dermatology – 15% off aesthetician services
  • New Beauty & Wellness Spa – 15% off all services
  • Restore Cryotherapy – 15% off all services
  • Westport Dental Associates (teeth whitening) – $200 ZOOM Teeth Whitening (67% discount) and 40% off Quip Toothbrushes
  • XO Skincare (at Sola Studios) – 15% off

Home Decor & Gifts

  • Dovecote – 20% off
  • Fig – 20% off
  • Indulge by Mersene – 20% off one item
  • Party Harty – 10% off
  • She La La – 20% off winter gear, including cashmere
  • Simple Elegance – 20% off
  • Taylor Place – 20% off
  • Tusk – 20% off select items (designated in store)
  • Westport Library Pop-Up Shop – 20% off scarves and metal ornaments; 10% off everything else
  • William-Sonoma – 20% off all William-Sonoma branded products

You can get all kinds of gifts at Indulge by Mersene — including some with “06880” themes!

Jewelry

  • Artemis Westport – 20% off
  • Faye Kim Fine Jewelry – 20% off select items
  • Lux Bond & Green – 10% off (20% off select items)
  • Mitchell’s – 15% off (some brand exclusions apply)
  • Noya – 10% off select jewelry items, and 20% of select accessories

Pet Care

  • Choice Pet – 20% off
  • Earth Animal – 20% off designer sweaters & coats for pups

Restaurants & Food Services

  • 190 Main – 10% off
  • A&S Food – 10% off
  • Bagel Maven – 10% off
  • Black Duck – 10% off
  • The Cottage – 10% off of dinner
  • Gold’s Deli – 10% off restaurant dining
  • The Granola Bar – 10% off
  • Green & Tonic – 10% off menu; 30% off detox cleanse
  • Jersey Mike’s – 10% off
  • Jesup Hall – 10% off OR FREE Happy Hour drink Tuesday-Friday, 5-630pm
  • Layla’s Falafel – 10% off
  • Little Barn – 10% off
  • Little Kitchen – 10% off
  • Match Burger Lobster – 10% off food
  • MEAT – 10% off
  • OKO – 20% off lunch
  • Organic Market – 10% off
  • The Pearl – 10% off
  • Le Penguin – 10% off (excluding dinner Friday and Saturday)
  • Planet Pizza – 10% off
  • Rizzuto’s – 10% off
  • Rye Ridge Deli – 15% off
  • The Spotted Horse – 10% off
  • Stiles Market – 10% off butcher and deli only
  • Tarry Lodge – 10% off
  • Tavern on Main – 10% off
  • Terrain – S’mores and Popcorn by the fireplace on 12/1 and 12/8
  • Westport Pizza – 10% off
  • Winfield Street & Deli – 10% off

Layla’s Falafel is one of the many participating places beyond downtown. There’s construction in front of the 1535 Post Road East restaurant — but plenty of parking in back.

Sporting Goods

  • ASF Sports and Outdoors – 20% off footwear
  • Downunder – 20% off
  • Olympia Sports – 20% off
  • Ski & Sport – 20% off one-time purchase (excluding Bogner and sale items)
  • Sports Attic – 20% off sports merchandise

Toys

  • Age of Reason – 20% off

Wine & Liquor

  • Country Liquors – 10% off

Westport Moms Offer “Local Love”

It’s easy to bemoan the sorry state of downtown Westport. We talk for hours about empty storefronts, long-gone favorites, and the impending disaster that is the opening of the Norwalk mall.

It’s a lot harder to do something about it.

Thankfully, Megan Rutstein and Melissa Post are on the case.

The Westport moms — who own and operate the wildly popular WestportMoms.com platform — are working hard on a new project.

“Local Love” debuts in late November. Running through 2 weekends, it’s a chance for store and restaurant owners to draw customers by offering discounts. The suggested draw: 20% off for stores, 15% for salons and spas, 10% for restaurants.

“Local Love” will draw shoppers to places they might not know about downtown — and throughout the rest of Westport .

But “Local Love” is a lot more than just a $40 coupon book. A portion of the sales will help build a playground near the new library.

The Westport Downtown Merchants Association, Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce and town officials are all behind the idea. And Megan and Melissa are involving shops and restaurants all around Westport — not just downtown.

When I said they were “working hard,” I wasn’t kidding. The duo have spent weeks talking to store and restaurant owners. More than 50 already signed up.

“They’re being very creative with what they offer,” Melissa says. “For example, a store like Tiffany can’t offer discounts.  So they may sponsor a ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s.’ You’ll get a lot for your $40.”

The Westport moms can’t hit every spot themselves. So they’re asking business owners to email them (info@westportmoms.com). They’ll announce the entire roster soon.

Watch this space for news about buying that $40 ticket.

Then show your “Local Love.”

Willkommen, Westoberfest

For a decade, the Westport Downtown Merchants Association sponsored Blues, Views & BBQ.

This year, after the Labor Day weekend music and food festival evolved into a regional event — drawing visitors from as far as New York, but who seldom ventured beyond the Levitt Pavilion and Imperial Avenue venues — the WDMA handed it off to the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce.

That left a hole in the downtown group’s calendar. They wanted something new — but Main Street oriented.

Welcome, Westoberfest! It’s set for next Saturday (October 13), from 1 to 5 p.m.

Like Oktoberfests everywhere, this one features beer, food, music and more. Over 18 local and regional breweries will offer seasonal craft beers in the Elm Street parking lot. Merchants will walk around, handing out coupons and free items.

Rothbard Ale + Larder and Kawa Ni will serve special cuisines. Amber Anchor plays; kids can enjoy face painting, and the Westport Artists Collective, Historical Society, Library, Wakeman Town Farm and Earthplace will all participate too.

Also on tap: a pop-up artisan market courtesy of the Westport Farmers’ Market, and a classic car rally and exhibition through the Small Car Company of Westport.

It’s all free (except for the beer tasting). Those tickets ($35 for single, $60 for a pair, in advance online only, and a pack of 10 for $280, in advance online only) are available here.

If you think a lot goes on in Westport next weekend, you’re right. There’s also Saugatuck StoryFest at the library, Jesup Green and other sites.

This is one time no one will sing the downtown blues.