Fabric store sees business boost and new Westport location amid pandemic

WESTPORT — While it’s already enjoyed a long history in Westport, Calico—the design and fabric store—is celebrating a new grand opening in town.

“We were at 1701 Post Road for 25 years,” explained manager Jane Peck, who saw 17 of those years there herself.

This month, the 72-year-old national chain, which originally began selling seconds of designer fabrics in Bedford Village, N.Y., as Calico Corners in 1948, opened downtown at 224 Post Road East.

“It’s a great location because of the visibility,” she said, noting the ribbon-cutting ceremony on Feb. 8 included a visit from State Sen. Will Haskell, as well as a range of officials, designers and industry professionals.

“They decided to do this pre-COVID,” she said, “but amazingly we opened up the store right on schedule.”

The corner building on the west side of Imperial Avenue, which originally housed Ed Mitchell’s and, in recent years, the State Cleaners, is now a new Calico store offering a range of design services—both in-person and virtual— including, custom furniture, reupholstering, home furnishings and custom window treatments.

“We do just about anything made out of fabric,” Peck said.

The store no longer houses the bolts of fabric that they used to cut for samples and such, though the services and offerings—as well as the quality—will remain the same.

“I feel like our move makes us more updated,” noted Shaun Amberg, a designer with the store for 13 years.

The new location still draws its loyal customer base as well as some new ones.

“I know you can trust them in terms of quality and the value for your money,” said customer Kathy Volpe, who just moved into Westport from Massachusetts and is decorating her new house.

“When I built my house 25 years ago outside of Boston, I went to Calico,” she said, where she had design work, window treatments and even new furniture created for her.

“I was extremely happy with the quality,” she said, adding the furniture is still in use at her other home on Cape Cod. “All of the things they made for me still look perfect.”

Peck said that business has been booming this year, owing to the pandemic.

“We are seeing an increase in customers decorating their homes because they’re in their homes so much more,” she said. “Plus we’ve seen new homes, people moving into this area and they need to decorate their homes.”

Store visits are by appointment, Peck said, though they can also come to homes directly to consult or work with a customer virtually.

“We also allow people to borrow fabric and take them home for two days to see how you like something,” she said, adding it’s a better option than just having the traditional tiny swatch to go on.

She noted that the retail nature of the store is part of what makes them unique. While customers can visit to simply buy a fabric or related item of interest, they can also involve their work and design team up to whatever level they need.

“We’re doing a lot of design work here (and) we do have a lot of products that we can offer to our customers,” Amberg said. “It’s a great location.”