Cooperative with diverse wares set to open at Silver's site
A new business is slated to open at the former longtime home of Silver of Westport on April 15. That family business, which had been a mainstay in town for customers looking for luggage or unique gifts, shut its doors late last year.
The 3,000-square-foot store at the Compo Acres Shopping Center on Post Road East is currently being gutted to make room for a new cooperative venture, according to Betsy Pollak, one of four people involved in the new business.
"The building is being transformed into "urban chic with cement floors and wood shelves," she said. "It will be on the whimsical side."
Items the cooperative plans to offer will include products for babies and children, antiques and Westport-related items supplied by local vendors.
There will also be an artist who will do pet portraits, she noted.
And, she added, Stephen Silver, the former owner of Silver's, will also be one of the vendors. He is also one of the four parties organizing the cooperative, she said.
"He won't be selling luggage," which was the main lines of merchandise at Silver's, she said. But he "will have the latest and greatest items and gadgets," she said.
She said all of the items sold at the cooperative will be "nice, quality merchandise -- nothing on consignment."
Those selling jewelry will get a free-standing space while other items will be displayed on shelves and racks.
She said the cooperative is a place for someone who might be considering opening a store of their own and would like to try out their wares or ideas.
Pollak, the founder and publisher of Our Town Crier, was in the retail business for 20 years before starting the interactive website that promotes local businesses.
She said she saw a few of those businesses were failing because the owners couldn't pay their rents. The cooperative, she noted, is designed to be a refuge for people in that position because the cost to become part of it is reasonable.
Pollak said they are still trying to come up with a name for the new business, although a sign on the front window of the store says "Future home of Westport Bazaar."
Silver's former business was started by his grandfather who began selling canes and umbrellas in Bridgeport in 1904. His father opened at the Westport location on Post Road East in 1971. Silver, in an interview just before his business closed, said he had been struggling for a while and that construction taking place at the plaza caused a decline in sales, sealing the store's fate.
Pollak said Silver still had a lease on the store, which "he couldn't get rid of." So opening up the building for others seemed a way to go, she said.
When it closed its doors, Silvers of Westport was the longest continually operating store in town. Mitchell's the second longest in Westport, was established in 1958.
Vendors interested in the new venture can contact Pollak by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.