Garelick & Herbs owner attributes closure to fewer customers, parking issues
WESTPORT — After serving customers for nearly six years, Garelick & Herbs will close its store in the Saugatuck section of Westport on Feb. 29.
Owned by Jason and Paula Garelick, Garelick & Herbs, a gourmet market offering prepared foods, opened on 580 Riverside Ave. in August 2014. The local chain’s stores in Southport and Greenwich will remain open.
The store’s Saugatuck location replaced its Westport market, which was situated on Post Road in town for more than two decades.
“My first store was in Westport, I was there for 25 years,” Jason Garelick said this week. “I love Westport as a community. That’s why we opened up a Saugatuck store.”
The Garelicks moved their Post Road store in Westport to Southport, just over the border in Fairfield, several years ago.
As Garelick explained, closing a store is always a tough decision.
“I had a five-year lease on our Saugatuck store and the past several months, we were going month-to-month, since our lease ended in 2019,” Garelick said. “It wasn’t drawing as many customers as it was in the past.”
Garelick & Herbs’ Saugatuck location also factored into the equation.
“Parking is tight in the area. You couldn’t get into the lot because of the train traffic,” Garelick said. “We were mostly only drawing customers from one section of Westport. In Saugatuck, you rely more on customers coming from the train station. Also, we were busier during the summer time. Closing a store is always a difficult decision and the area is great, but it just wasn’t worth it for us.”
Garelick emphasized the store’s closing is not connected to the a report released in December that showed the restaurant’s owners had to pay $116,087 in back wages to 35 employees for violating overtime and record-keeping provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
“That was from three years ago and it was settled two years ago,” Garelick said. “This closing has nothing at all to do with that. Every employee is still here from that time. This is is not at all tied to that.”