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Business

Business

Monday, March 23, 2009

New in Westport: Ron’s Barber Shop

By Dave Matlow

Ron Provenzano, a Bridgeport native who has been a barber for 17 years, says “it’s always been a dream of mine to open a shop in Westport.”WestportNow.com Image
Paul Mignone of Trumbull is in the barber chair at Ron’s Barber Shop. “Ron has been my barber since 1992,” he said. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Now that dream has come true.

Despite the difficult economy, Provenzano has opened Ron’s Barber Shop at 26 Railroad Place across from the Metro-North railroad station in the Saugatuck area.

Provenzano, who lived in the Saugatuck area in the 1980s for six years, said he currently operates a shop in Trumbull on Tuesdays and will open the Westport shop Wednesday through Saturday.

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Posted 07:35 PM
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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Buffett Biographer Addresses Westport Audience

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Alice Schroeder, author of “The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life,” was guest speaker today at the Westport Public Library. Her story of one of the world’s richest men attracted a large audience. Among her insights: “While it doesn’t seem like it, Warren Buffett has a sense of humor.” Schroeder, who lives in Greenwich, was a noted insurance industry analyst and writer who was a managing director at Morgan Stanley. She first met Buffett when she published research on Berkshire Hathaway. Her grasp of the subject and insight so impressed him that he offered her access to his files and to himself. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Phyllis Groner for WestportNow.com

Posted 10:18 PM
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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Obama Got $$ from Westport Head of Money-Losing AIG Unit

The Westport man who headed the money-losing financial unit of American International Group—the insurance company which paid millions in bonuses after a $170 billion government bailout that brought outrage this week from President Obama—donated $4,800 to Obama’s presidential campaign, according to federal campaign records.

Joseph J. Cassano, 54, who has been a registered voter in Westport since 1995, donated $2,300 to Obama for America on Jan. 10, 2008, and $2,500 to the Obama Victory Fund on July 24, 2008, Federal Election Commission records show.

He listed his home in Westport’s Compo Beach area as his residence in making both donations. Cassano is one of at least four present or former AIG executives from the financial group who listed Westport as their residence in making 2008 campaign donations. It is not known if any of them are bonus recipients.

President Obama said Monday he would “pursue every single legal avenue to block” $165 million in bonuses to AIG employees who were in part responsible for the insurance giant’s near collapse.

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Posted 05:01 AM
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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Good News With Goody Shop Opening

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Amid a number of recent retail store closings in Westport, The Goody Shop has opened its doors at 1046 Post Road East, next to Swanky Frank’s restaurant. According to owner Rachel Florio, the store caters to “a local demographic (equestrians and prepsters) and offers items from a tennis racket cover to a dog collar plus high-end hostess gifts and vintage inspired baby goods.” The shop sells 97 different lines, many created by local artisans. Florio, a single mother of three, runs multiple careers including a public relations business as a celebrity trend expert with TV appearances on “The Today Show” and “The CBS Early Show.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Posted 11:52 PM
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Monday, March 16, 2009

More Westport Retail Closings

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Two tenants at Westport’s 877 Post Road East near the Sherwood Island Connector have closed their doors in more signs of a difficult economy. Sport Collectables and ConsignMart formerly occupied the spaces at each side of the current Radio Shack store. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Posted 01:00 PM
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Sunday, March 15, 2009

After 34 Years, Baker Graphics is Moving

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Baker Graphics, a mainstay for 34 years at 379 Post Road East in the Compo Shopping Center, will close its doors in a few weeks to relocate to 1032 Post Road East. Owner Richard Baker said the Internet has changed his business. “In the past, our customers brought their graphic projects to our store but now everything is e-mailed to us,” he said. So there’s no longer a need to run the business out of high traffic location and pay a high rent to be there. He said his new location, former home to the Prince of Wales antique shop, is larger and less expensive. Baker said his business has eight full-time employees and several part-timers. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Posted 11:38 PM
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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Shoe Megashop to Boost Westport Economy on April 2

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UPDATE The new Marshalls Shoe Megashop located at Westport’s 1076 Post Road East next to Barnes & Noble will have its grand opening on April 2, according to an on-site contractor. The 11,000-square-foot store is only the second standalone Marshalls Shoe Megashop in the New York market (the other is in Yonkers) and will feature designer name and brand name shoes for ladies, men and kids at up to 50 percent off department and shoe store prices. Parent TJX Companies also owns HomeGoods at 1850 Post Road East. It is also parent company of T.J. Maxx, A.J. Wright, and Bob’s Stores. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Posted 05:15 AM
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Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Snow Forces Retail Closures

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Many Westport retail stores were closed or shut down early today because of the snowstorm, including Crate & Barrel on Post Road East. Downtown retailers who did not answer phone calls included Oscar’s, Tavern on Main, Liquor Locker, and the Gap. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Posted 12:25 AM
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Friday, February 27, 2009

Curtains for Curran Cadillac

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The showroom at Curran Cadillac Pontiac GMC auto dealership on Westport’s Post Road East was almost empty as the business announced today was its last day after 40 years at the location.  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Posted 05:00 PM
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Curran Cadillac Closing After All

By Dave Matlow

UPDATE A month after the president of the Curran Cadillac Pontiac GMC auto dealership on Westport’s Post Road East denied the business was closing, today he said it was indeed shutting down.WestportNow.com Image
Jim Curran: “It saddens me to say we will be closing.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

“It saddens me to say that after 40 plus years in Westport, we will be closing today,” Jim Curran said in an e-mail message to WestportNow. “We are actively pursuing another automotive franchise to replace our GM store, but as of right now nothing yet.”

WestportNow carried a story on Jan. 25 quoting the Curran Cadillac sales manager as saying that the dealership, which has been in operation at 561 Post Road East since 1964, would be closing its doors at the end of January due to the difficult economic times. (See WestportNow Jan. 25, 2009)

But Curran subsequently sent an e-mail message to WestportNow saying: “Curran Cadillac is not closing. We are laying off additional employees by the end of this month, but we will be open for service and sales.” (See WestportNow Jan. 26, 2009)

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Posted 04:41 PM
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Hauling the Cars Away

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An auto carrier loads up cars at the Curran Cadillac Pontiac GMC auto dealership on Westport’s Post Road East today following announcement that the dealership was closing after 40 years.  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Posted 04:39 PM
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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Former Westport Businessman Pleads Guilty in Fraud Scheme

The owner of a former Westport investment firm pleaded guilty today in federal court in New Haven to interstate transportation of money obtained from fraud.

Anthony Iati, 48, of York, Pa., was the owner of Great River Capital, LLC, formerly of 191 Post Road West in Westport. Court documents showed investors lost about $700,000 in connection with the company which sold jewelry to department stores. 

In order to finance the company while the company awaited payment from its customers, Iati obtained funds from investors, prosecutors said. In December 2006 and January 2007 an investor sent funds from Pennsylvania to the Westport firm, they said.

At the time of the interstate transportation of funds, Iati knew that he had already converted the investors’ funds for a real estate investment and was not using the funds as he had represented, the U.S. Attorney’s office said.

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Posted 11:07 PM
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Monday, February 23, 2009

Investors Sue Westport National Over Madoff Losses

Two doctors, their families and other colleagues have sued Westport National Bank, and a Westport-based pension consulting firm for losses they say occurred because they invested with Bernard Madoff, the Hartford Courant reported today.

Dr. Stephen R. Levinson of Easton and Dr. Richard E. Layton of Baltimore filed their lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Hartford on Feb. 13, the newspaper said. The bank acted as a custodian for Madoff, they said, and “deprived [them] of the security that an independent custodian is retained to provide.”

They also accused the bank and Westport’s PSCC Services of violating the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and the state Unfair Trade Practices Act, breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, negligent misrepresentation, aiding and abetting conversion and statutory theft, and other offenses.

Levinson began investing with Madoff years ago and later brought in his brother, and two daughters “whom he’d lectured about building nest eggs, even while they were in college,” the Courant said. They are suing for an estimated $60 million, the newspaper said.

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Posted 11:44 AM
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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Westport Minuteman Owner Files for Bankruptcy

UPDATE The Journal Register Company, owner of the Westport Minuteman and Fairfield Minuteman as well as 20 daily newspapers and other weeklies, sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection today, citing declining advertising revenue and a heavy debt load.

The company said in a news release it intends to continue to operate as usual, and does not anticipate any business interruption during its planned restructuring.

The Yardley, Pa.-based newspaper publisher reported $596 million in assets as of Nov. 30 and $692 million in debt, including unpaid interest. Revenue has fallen more than 20 percent since 2006, the company said in the court filing.

The company, whose holdings include The New Haven Register, has already come to agreements with key creditors through a pre-negotiated reorganization plan, and said it was planning to restructure its operations.

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Posted 12:50 AM
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Saturday, February 21, 2009

State Revokes Westport Mortgage Company’s License

A Westport mortgage broker has had its license revoked by the state Banking Department and ordered to pay a $30,000 fine.WestportNow.com Image
The state Banking Department said the firm Michael Schulman, doing business as New England Financial, was at 191 Post Road West, Westport (above). But no such firm was listed on the lobby directory there today. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

A notice posted on the department’s Web site this week said the Feb. 4 action was taken against Michael Schulman, doing business as New England Financial at 191 Post Road West, because it allegedly employed an unregistered loan originator and failed to answer five complaints.

There was no company by that name listed on the lobby directory at 191 Post Road West today. However, other documents on the Banking Department’s Web site showed a company with the same name variously listed at 21 Bridge Square and 25 Sylvan Road South in Westport as well as 242 New Canaan Ave., Norwalk.

All five complaints had to do with Schulman’s alleged loan originator, Bruce D. Simmons, whom the department said is not registered or licensed as an originator, according to the Web site.

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Posted 11:51 PM
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