Friday, July 12, 2013
By James Lomuscio
Sally White seemed overwhelmed by all the media attention today, seemingly tired of parroting the same lines about her plans to shutter Sally’s Place, a record, tape and CD shop that has been a mainstay on Westport’s Main Street since 1985.
“It’s all been said,” said White as a cable news truck hummed below her store at 190 Main St.
“I don’t want to sound like a broken record,” she added.
News that White would close as the end of the summer hit Thursday, sounding a note around town far more melancholy than the somber jazz tune playing in her shop. For almost five decades White has been revered as the go-to person with encyclopedic knowledge of the music industry.
Customers credit her not only with knowledge of the esoteric musicians they seek, but the uncanny ability to ferret out the performers’ vinyls, CDs or tapes ,comparable to the way rare book dealers conduct searches for libraries.
“It’s because I’ve been around for a hundred years,” quipped White.
But now that spin will come to an end with close of summer, White says, all because of new technologies for delivering music.
“It’s the Internet,” she says, welling up
White, a 1946 graduate of Norwalk High School said she began working at age 14, finally finding a job she loved at Melody House in Norwalk, a music store at the foot of Main and Wall Street that was destroyed by the great flood of 1955.
In 1956, she found work at another Melody House in Westport and became a town fixture ever since. After two years she left Melody to sell 45s and 33s at Klein’s on Main Street, staying there for 20 years and building a following.
In 1985, however, she got the disappointing news that Klein’s would discontinue record sales to expand its children’s books section.
“Sally’s a nice girl, but we need the space,” Stanley Klein told this writer that year.
Fans rallied around White, seeing her as an anchor in a storm of music chain stores. The result was that she had no problem getting funded by the old Westport Bank & Trust to open up her current shop, a sanctuary open to music lovers of all stripes.
White does not want to reveal all the celebrities who have shopped there over the years, but the pictures on the walls tell the story, featuring the likes of the late Paul Newman and Dave Brubeck.
“I knew that man for 40 years,” she says of Brubeck.
“My life has been at this store,” White said. “It’s about this shop, and it’s all been about this music.”
Posted 07/12/13 at 05:45 PM
Bought my first record from Sally @ Klien’s ... “Meet the Beatles” for $5! In those days, it took10 hours of babysitting to earn that $$! I still have that record along with all the others purchased from her.
Thanks for the memories Sally.
Sally was a delightful, knowledgeable and personable merchant, and they are hard to find. Still, as someone who retired (again) this year, I know you can only keep doing it for so long. It would be great if she could pass the baton to someone else and keep Sally’s Place alive!