Sunday, April 02, 2023



USA Today: Ann Fudge Does Her Own Laundry

The media interviews have started for Westports latest corporate celebrity Җ Ann Fudge, named last week as chairman and chief executive officer of Young and Rubicam, one of the worlds best known ad agencies (See story May 13, 2003).

Tidbits from a USA Today interview Җ Fudge says she still makes time for ӑnormal things. She does yoga once a week and can execute the difficult ґCrane position.

ғShe is also someone, who despite living in Westport, Conn., the second-richest city in America and home to Martha Stewart and Paul Newman ח does her own laundry.

Westport a city? Second-richest in America? Guess the USA Today fact-checkers weren’t consulted on this one.

Worth magazine this year rated Jupiter Island, Fla., as the “richest town in America” with a median house price of $1.9 million followed by Aspen, Colo. at $1.75 million. No Connecticut town made the top 10.

According to the 2000 U.S. Census, Westport was well behind Darien, Weston and New Canaan in terms of median household income among towns in the area.

Update: Alert WestportNow reader Harris Goldblat points out that the USA Today reference probably came from a CNN/Money story on household income of U.S. places with a population of 25,000 or more.

In that listing, from real estate data marketing firm On Board, LLC, Westport is cited as No. 2 behind Potomac, Md. Potomac, with a population of 45,166, has a household income of $112,452, while Westport is listed as having a population of 25,899 and a household income of $110,413.

The 2000 U.S. Census lists WestportԒs population as 25,749 with a median household income of $119,872.

Westports Black Duck Cafҩ Seeks Permit to Construct Small Marina

It may soon be beer, burgers and boats—or, if you prefer, suds, salads and sails—at Westports Black Duck Cafҩ.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says the well-known restaurant whose home is a one-time barge on the Saugatuck River is seeking a permit to construct and maintain a small commercial marina providing 11 slips for vessels up to 20 feet in length.

The Corps is asking for public comment on the proposal with a deadline of June 2.

Details of the application are available on the Corps Web site.

The Black Duck Caf, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, is located on a former sea-going refrigeration and ice storage barge that was built around 1840.

According to a history of the restaurant on the Black Duck Web site, the barge was refurbished in the early 1900s and had been anchored in Westport since 1961.

The restaurant is named for a legendary rumrunner that operated off the New England coast during the Prohibition era.

Martha Stewarts New Furniture Line Includes Some Westport-inspired Items

Martha Stewarts new furniture line has some items linked to her being a Westporter.

For example, you can buy her ғWestport Studio Armoire, which todayԒs Fort Worth Star-Telegram says is one of favorites.

(It is) a beautiful, carved piece with drawers and cabinets aplenty, inspired by a French Canadian antique that Stewart keeps stocked with craft supplies. A large piece, more than 7 feet tall and 6 feet wide, it sells for $3,599,Ӕ the newspaper said.

Theres also the ғTurkey Hill Chest, the “Westport Stool,” and “Westport Kitchen Island,” but her Web site doesnԒt give the prices. You have to go to a local dealer for that.

The new line of furniture, along with a collection of flooring, paint and fabrics, are part of Martha Stewart Signature, which Stewarts company describes as ғa complete decorating system of home furnishings.

Alas, there is no store carrying the line listed in Westport. The closest Martha Stewart furniture outlet is Huffman-Koos on West Avenue in Norwalk.

Another Retailer Quits: Sconset Squares CamerArts is Selling Out

Westport is losing another longtime local retailer CamerArts, a photo and camera store in Sconset Square, is selling out to a Ridgefield retailer who will reopen it as a photo, card and gift shop.

֓The face of retailing has changed dramatically, said owner Stephen A. Schwartz, 58. ԓThe competition is stronger than it ever has been. And that makes it very, very tough.

Schwartz, who ran a learning center for photographers as well as selling cameras, photo supplies, and offering photo finishing, said he has no regrets after 23 years in the square.

ԓIve been in retailing for 35 years and itҒs time, he said. ԓEverybody in Westport has been terrific. But times change.  People are more demanding. Its hard to meet those demands and make a profit. You just max out.Ҕ

Schwartz, who lives in the Compo Beach area with wife Nancy Holson, founder of the political satire group “The News in Revue,”  said while sale of his business has been completed, hes waiting a few days to change the sign.

ғThe Fairfield County Weekly, or Advocate, whatever they call it, is coming out in a few days naming us the best photo shop in the county, he said. ԓIronic, isnt it? So weҒll keep the sign up until then.

Schwartz gained some national notoriety three years ago after Martha Stewart wrote an article in The New York Times Sunday Magazine saying she really didnԒt like Westport and intended to leave.

The CamerArts owner put up a bulletin board in his store and invited Westporters angered at her comments to post messages to her. That was fun,Ӕ he recalled with a chuckle.

Of course Stewart stayed anyway. But now its CamerArts thatҒs leaving.

Martha Stewart Acknowledges the Obvious: Stock Probe Hurt Earnings

Westporter Martha Stewarts media company says it had a much wider net loss and 15 percent lower revenue for its first quarter and that it was hurt by the government’s insider trading investigation of her.

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc., which produces magazines, TV programs and merchandise, reported a loss of $4.51 million, or 9 cents per share, compared with a loss of $234,000, or break-even on a per share basis, in the year-ago period.

The 2002 first-quarter results include a charge of $3.14 million, or 6 cents a share, related to an accounting rule change.

Its operating loss was $7.5 million, or 9 cents per share. Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call expected a loss of 6 cents per share. Revenues declined to $58 million from $68 million for the year-ago period.

“Our business results reflect considerable pressure associated with the continuing governmental investigations of my sale of noncompany stock,” Stewart said in a statement.

“In the face of these pressures, the company nonetheless remains focused on creating and producing the original how-to content and quality products that fuel our company and define our brand.”

Prosecutors have been investigating whether Stewart and a Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. broker violated insider-trading laws in the December 2001 sale of ImClone Systems Inc. stock. No charges have been filed against Stewart, and she has denied wrongdoing.

Stewart said the companyҒs recent ideas and products include the new digest-sized Everyday Food magazine and our recently launched Martha Stewart Signature furniture collection, both of which are experiencing early strong consumer response.Ӕ

Westports Kidwear Closing Its Doors

Another longtime locally-owned Westport retailer is closing its doors Kidwear at 1045 Post Road East near Colonial Road. The two sisters who founded the children֒s clothing and accessory store 16 years ago say its time to move on.

ғIts a combination of everything,Ҕ said Westporter Lynne Rozsa, who along with her younger sister Nancy Symington of Bridgeport, opened the store in 1987. ItӒs hard fighting the (poor) economy and retail is so consuming.

The storeԒs Web site says the two sisters decided to open Kidwear because they wanted to create a fun, easy one-stop shopping experience for moms or anyone shopping for children.Ӕ

Now, in a mailing to Westporters, they announced they are launching a quitting business saleӔ beginning Thursday. Everything will be sold, their letter said, including clothing, shoes, accessories, toys, and even store fixtures and equipment.

At the end of the sale, they plan to award customers more than $2,000 in prizes.

Rozsa said she looked forward to quieter times. It’s been hard, she said, having three kids go through the Westport schools while helping Westporters and customers throughout the country via their Web site or phone.ItӒs time to get out, she said.

Westports Playtex Reports 29 Percent Profit Drop

One of Westports highҖprofile corporate residents, Playtex Products Inc., says its first-quarter earnings fell 29 percent.

The company, with its corporate headquarters in the Nyala Farms office complex just off I-95, warned of lower 2003 earnings as it steps up promotions to stave off strong competition in the tampon market.

The maker of Playtex tampons, Mr. Bubble bath soap and other consumer products said first-quarter net income fell to $11.4 million, or 19 cents a share from $16.1 million, or 26 cents a share, a year ago.

While most Westporters may not know it, their hometown is also home to other Playtex products such as Wet Ones, Baby Magic, Diaper Genie, Banana Boat, Woolite rug and upholstery cleaning products, Playtex gloves, Binaca and Ogilvie.

Finally, in the interests of further educating WestportNow readers about some things they may not know, Westports Playtex doesnҒt mean Playtex bras.

The explanation—in 1986, Playtex Holdings was comprised of two companies: Playtex Family Products Corp. (tampons, infant feeding and household products) and Playtex Apparel, Inc. (bras, girdles, hosiery and other apparel).

In 1991, the publicly traded Sara Lee Co. purchased Playtex Apparel and acquired a 25 percent interest in Playtex Family Products (which it later sold back). Playtex Family Products eventually became Playtex Products, Inc.

Update: Playtex shares closed down 15 percent, or $1.33, at $7.45 today on the New York Stock Exchange. It was the largest percentage loser on the exchange.

Westports Eddie Bauer Store to Close

Westports Eddie Bauer store, a fixture for many years at the intersection of Post Road East and Taylor Place in the heart of the town center, is closing.

The Spiegel Group Inc. said the store—which it actually counts as two as it has apparel as well as home items—is one of its 60 underperforming Eddie Bauer stores it plans to close as part of its Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization.

The Downers Grove, Ill.-based catalog retailer said the closings affect 51 apparel stores, eight home stores and one outlet store in 25 states plus the District of Columbia. It said it may close more of its 529 Eddie Bauer stores in the future.

Eddie Bauer operates outdoor-themed stores in the United States and Canada. Spiegel said the closures should improve the chain’s financial results in fiscal 2003 and beyond. It said the stores will remain open pending the bankruptcy court’s approval of the store-closing plan.

Spiegel did not say how many jobs will be lost. The company, founded in 1865, filed for protection from creditors in March.

THe 16,400-square foot building at 40-44 Post Road East was sold in 2002 by Maryland-based Federal Realty Investment Trust to a Greenwich-based real estate investment group for $7.5 million. It had purchased the building in 1994 for $4.2 million.

Longtime Westporters will remember the Eddie Bauer location as housing the old Ship’s Lantern Restaurant as well as Colgan’s Pharmacy. The Ship’s name is retained by the Ship’s Corner Chinese takeout which occupies the rear portion of the building facing on Jesup Road.

Martha Stewart Licking: Westporters New Pet Project

The man who put chinchillas and canaries in Martha Stewart’s Westport home—where she also keeps seven Himalayan cats—is the new star of Stewarts media empire.

Long IslandҒs Newsday newspaper reported today that Stewart, who built a multimillion-dollar business from her homemaking tips, is branching out into pet care.

Stewarts company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc., will launch a new television show, Web site, magazine column and merchandise based on the ideas of Long Island pet-shop owner Marc Morrone of Parrots of the World in Rockville Centre,

It is the first major venture by StewartҒs company to focus on the personality and talents of someone other than its founder.

The Manhattan-based company is taking over production of Morrone’s nationally syndicated TV show, renaming it “Petkeeping with Marc Morrone.” The new, half-hour program is set to debut in September on more than 130 stations nationwide, many affiliated with Fox television.

Stewart told reporters that she first met Morrone in 1998 after she came across his TV show late one night on Cablevision’s Metro Channel. He soon became a frequent guest on her TV program and introduced chinchillas and canaries to her Turkey Hill Road South home.

Connollys Out, The Vine Mediterranean Grill & Pizza In

Another familiar Westport restaurant is gone, soon to be replaced by an upscale pizza place.

Connollys Restaurant and Taproom, a longtime fixture on Post Road West on the corner of Sylvan Road South, closed down suddenly earlier this month.

The restaurant, once known as Connolly’s The Seafood Steak House, was marked by its distinctive green and white striped awning.

A sign on the window tells visitors soon opening in its place will be The Vine Mediterranean Grill & Pizza.

ғWe will be closed April 14-29 for minor renovations, the sign says. ԓOnce again we thank you for your faithful years of patronage at Connollys Taproom and we look forward to seeing you at our new establishment.Ҕ

The sign said the new restaurant would offer a weekend breakfast buffet, a Sunday brunch, an all-you-can-eat selection plus free online home and business delivery services.Ӕ The sign gave an Internet address which is not operational.

A workman who answered the phone at the former Connollys said The Vine would be under new ownership.