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Monday, November 28, 2016

Valet Parking Off to Slow Start

The new Westport downtown valet parking got off to a slow start over the three-day Thanksgiving weekend, but organizer Westport Downtown Merchants Association (WDMA) is looking for the pace to pick up.

WestportNow.com Image
Attendants parked 113 cars over the three-day Thanksgiving weekend, wth 68 coming on “Black Friday.” Pictured are attendants serving customers. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo

In all, 68 cars took advantage of the service on Friday, sometimes called “Black Friday,” and 45 on Saturday and Sunday for a total of 113, said Colleen Wiedmann of the WDMA.

“We had a very positive reaction overall throughout the weekend,” she said. “Saturday and Sunday were slow days for valet and downtown in general.”

She said the valet team perused nearby lots to ensue that shoppers were aware of the service, which costs $5 per car plus gratuity.

But spaces in the lots were constantly turning over, likely due to slower business on Saturday and Sunday, Wiedmann said.

“We expect the next two weeks to be on the slower side, and likely pick up pace as we get further into the season, and our holiday festivities kick off,” she said.

The debut weekend allowed for working out kinks and making adjustments. “There were no major issues to speak of,” Wiedmann said.

The WDMA will look at decreasing staff – seven attendants worked the initial day – for next weekend, she said.

“We thought it better to over staff for the first weekend, particularly given it was a holiday, rather than have a situation where we were not moving quickly enough,” Wiedmann said. “The valet manager did make cuts throughout the day to adjust to demand.”

In addition, she said the WDMA will ensure that the valet service is taking only the necessary amount of parking spaces on Main Street to keep traffic moving, and to accommodate text-ahead pick-up. 

“We did institute the ‘text ahead’ option on Saturday, but the average wait time without text ahead was only two to four minutes, so the majority of customers opted to wait instead of using the texting option,” Wiedmann said.

She added that another focus is ensuring that merchants and their employees are not inconvenienced.

“So we did offer complimentary valet tickets to our merchants who have mid-day shifts, as well as giving a certain number of spots to some of our early morning arrivals from Sconset Square businesses,” Wiedmann said.

She said WDMA events director Amy Kaplan will meet with Valet Park America, which runs the service, to review “learnings” from the first weekend, and make any necessary adjustments for the upcoming weekend.

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Posted 11/28/16 at 11:41 AM  Permalink



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