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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Jay Kowalsky: Fresh Market to Open in November

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By Dave Matlow Image
Jay Kowalsky: The Fresh Market stores are “knock-down gorgeous” with competitive prices. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for
Specialty food store The Fresh Market will open in November in place of Shaw’s Supermarket which closed Saturday on Westport’s Post Road East, a representative of the shopping center owner said today.

A 15-year contract with the 84-store chain based in Greensboro, N.C. was signed several days ago, said Jay Kowalsky, president and treasurer of Kowalsky Real Estate owned by the Kowalsky family of Westport.

Renovations to the site at 605 Post Road East—which at one time was Grand Union—will cost in the $3 million range, he said. In addition, there will be upgrades to adjacent stores as well as to the family-owned shopping strip on the opposite side of Post Road East.

Kowalsky disclosed that during lengthy negotiations with The Fresh Market, the family entertained proposals from The Stop & Shop Supermarket Company and Big Y.

His comments followed rumors in Westport real estate circles that the deal with The Fresh Market might have fallen through.

“That (rumor) was because it was hard for us to turn down the Stop & Shop offer,” Kowalsky said. “They offered to sign a 15-year contract that was $2 million higher (over the length of the contract) than the Fresh Market contract.”

He said he thought the town “would hate” another Stop & Shop at the location because it would not give the community much of a variety in stores to choose from.

“We visited The Fresh Market stores and they are knock-down gorgeous with the same prices as the major supermarkets,” he said. “We’re very excited.”

In November when it was announced Shaw’s would be closing, Kowalsky told WestportNow that the family had decided not to renew the lease because of frustration with the repeated failure by the supermarket to upgrade its Westport store. (See WestportNow Nov. 11, 2008) Image
The Kowalsky family-owned strip mall at 606 Post Road East in Westport, opposite the former Shaw’s Supermarket, is also scheduled to get a face lift. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

He said work on the supermarket site will begin Feb. 1 starting with interior demolition, to be followed by the major overall renovation.

Asked how the makeover will affect other tenants in the shopping center, Kowalsky said The Fresh Market “has a lot to say about it,” adding: “We will work with their architects and engineers to see what we can do about uplifting (the other stores).”

He said renovation work will begin this summer across the street in the strip center that houses Dunkin’ Donuts, The Bombay Restaurant, The UPS Store, and other tenants.

Posted 01/15/09 at 03:26 PM


Comment Policy

This will be a long wait; I wish the store were able to open sooner. 

Nina Streitfeld

Posted by Nina Streitfeld on January 15, 2009 at 05:07 PM | #

It certainly will be a long wait and even after the new establishment opens, I still will have to go to Stop & Shop for household and other items.

I hope that the Kowalskys’  renovations at both shopping areas will not price the present tenants out of their commercial homes.

Posted by Elisabeth Keane on January 15, 2009 at 05:43 PM | #

I agree with Ms. Keane.  Stop and Shop will still be the store for household, etc. items.  Much as I love Trader Joe’s products and prices, there is a limit to what they stock.

Checking with a friend in NC who is familiar with Fresh Market, she said it’s a great store with organic and other products, with prices just a bit higher than a regular market.
So it may not be too different from Whole Foods.

And I’m just wondering why valuable parking space was filled in with trees????  Especially with a market at that location?
Janet Beasley

Posted by Janet Beasley on January 15, 2009 at 06:21 PM | #

Big Y would have been a better choice, although I do not think the footprint works for their model. Fresh Market has a great product but is not competitively priced like Shaw’s Stop & Shop and Big Y. It competes directly with Whole Foods.  Well, this just continues to be the price of progress in Westport.  I hope they carry Pepperidge Farm products!

Posted by Jamie Walsh on January 15, 2009 at 07:35 PM | #

When I checked the Fresh Market website, I did not find Pepperidge Farm products.  Apparently, Fresh Market uses only their own brand although the website did mention a specific supplier of wheat-fed pork along with some fruits available from a specific farmer in Florida from January to March.

Mr. Kowalsky states that Fresh Market will have a lot to say about the other tenants in that shopping area.  Why? Most of the folks operating the other businesses in that shopping area have been there for a long time. Will their input and longevity be respected?  I hope we do not lose them, including the businesses across the street.

Posted by Elisabeth Keane on January 15, 2009 at 08:48 PM | #

Another example of a landlord deciding on Westport’s quality of life.  Kowalsky “thought the town ‘would hate’ another Stop & Shop at the location because it would not give the community much of a variety in stores to choose from.”  Whom did he survey? And, as Ms. Keane writes, why should Fresh Market have a say about the needed smaller tenants in the shopping center.

Posted by Edward Bloch on January 16, 2009 at 02:46 AM | #

While I applaud the Kowalsky’s desire and right to improve their asset and provide a “knock down gorgeous” place to shop…we all need more value and substance rather than glam and gorgeous. Yes… I know…this is Westport and we are suppose to be glam and gorgeous… but maybe a slight return to value and basic frugality might be an added benefit all around.  We all deserve a little more value in our day to day lives.

Posted by Jamie Walsh on January 16, 2009 at 03:20 AM | #

The Fresh Market might not be your typical grocery store like Shaw’s or Stop & Shop but they offer a good selection of products. Shaw’s was run down, they renovated all of their stores in this area but the Westport location (maybe because of its smaller size) plus they were paying a very low rent.  They chose to leave earlier than the term of their lease which did not expire until the end of March 2009.  If Stop & Shop went into this location they wouldn’t have to compete with another market, they are already more costly than some other chain markets in the Fairfield County area.  As far as the other tenants in the center go the Kowalsky family have always been good Landlords and support the “mom and pop” businesses which seem to becoming extinct, look what happened to Main St. It is unfortunate that in all towns, not just Westport that supermarkets are being “superzied”.  The Fresh Market is a family owned business, I think once they open and people see what they have to offer, maybe they won’t be so critical.  I’ve shopped in one of their stores in FL and I must say that their pricing is fair.  Nobody likes change but it’s happening all around us.

Posted by Cindy Howe on January 16, 2009 at 02:12 PM | #

Well said, Ms. Howe.

Posted by John Karrel on January 16, 2009 at 03:45 PM | #

So we have Balducci’s, Trader Joes and Whole “paycheck”…  Fresh Foods makes perfect sense.  Hope their shopping bags are soft.

Posted by Bill Thornton on January 16, 2009 at 06:33 PM | #

And I have been informed that the reasons for the trees covering the parking space in that plaza is a P&Z;law.
As there was a structure in that spot at one time it can not be turned into parking spaces.  Go figure.
Janet Beasley

Posted by Janet Beasley on January 16, 2009 at 08:02 PM | #

In response to comments made regarding The Fresh Market, the Kowalsky Family is very excited about our new tenant, The Fresh Market.  To make it perfectly clear the deal DID NOT fall through as rumor had it and they WILL be selling Pepperidge Farm Bread.  We have great existing tenants and hope they will continue to stay for years to come and we hope to gain new ones as well.  We will be working together with The Fresh Market and their architects to renovate the entire center. As for the quality of life issue, whose quality of life are we talking about? Yours? Mine? or Ours? Our family has been in Westport for more then 85 years. We think that The Fresh Market will be a wonderful asset to the Town of Westport and surrounding areas. We believe The Fresh Market is a perfect fit for the Town of Westport and The Kowalsky Family hopes everybody will enjoy it.

NOTE:  The island and the trees were added to the parking lot because Planning and Zoning required it to be done after we had voluntarily removed the building that existed in that spot to create more parking and a better flow of traffic.

Posted by Daryle Kowalsky on January 16, 2009 at 08:03 PM | #

I am not adverse to change (I think most folks probably are willing to give something new a chance) but for some time, quite a number of the commercial changes in town have involved fewer choices and increased inconvenience for many of us.  I am keeping fingers crossed that Fresh Market will turn out to be a pleasant surprise.  Still . . . there now are those extra trips to Stop & Shop to deal with.

If Fresh Market will be selling Pepperidge Farm bread, will they also be selling such things as household cleaners and paper products? 

For the Kowalskys:  While you are sprucing up that location, are you considering replacing those sad trees that have been struggling valiantly in the parking lot for so many years?

Posted by Elisabeth Keane on January 16, 2009 at 08:44 PM | #

How could I forget to ask this:  Will Fresh Market sell pet food?

Posted by Elisabeth Keane on January 16, 2009 at 08:46 PM | #

Daryle, I am sorry if my blog was perceived as personal. It was meant strictly as an observation. I recognize that the Kowalsky family has contributed tremendously to the betterment of all Westporters. If I owned the center I would want to improve the asset also and recognize this is your business and how your family earns a living. As far as a quality of life issue, I am not really sure what you mean? Having shopped at The Fresh Market in Wellington Florida several times, I am familiar with their product and do feel it is quality. I simply will miss not having a “Shaw’s” like store to compete with Stop & Shop. Thanks for your clarifications and I look forward to the improvements and am glad to hear they will be carrying Pepperidge Farm products.

Posted by Jamie Walsh on January 16, 2009 at 08:55 PM | #

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