Well, Old Greenwich, it looks like we are getting what we asked for. A while back as retail spaces began turning over at an alarming rate, with at one point, I believe, as many as nine empty or under construction retail spots unaccounted for. Residents would gather round the usual meeting places (soccer field, Arcadia Café, this blog, the pick up circle at school) to discuss what establishments would be “really nice” to have in town.
Nobody wanted more banks, that was for sure. And the idea of another chain store was repellant. Mom and pops, was the rallying cry. Give us nice things, affordable things, fun things. But most importantly, give us a look that was charming, quaint and representative of the town we live in. If anyone recalls, I touched on this challenge some time ago, and I asked the question, “do we really want a thriving village of small, local merchants, or do we just like the idea of living in a town that has one? “
Now Old Greenwich business has transformed itself in ways that put the responsibility of maintaining a thriving, charming neighborhood squarely on our shoulders. Let me try to cover some of the highlights:
Food Mart: what a wonderful job the Porricelli family has done over the years, but they have decided to check out and turn the grocery business in PG over to Kings. Yes, many people were hoping for a Trader Joes or Whole Foods if Food Mart had to go, but check out Kings (I did). There may be a happy medium here, and at a bare minimum, Kings is the kind of full-service and selection grocery that can and should persuade residents to do their shopping in OG, not Stamford or Riverside.
Florist: Taking a sliver of the old Fred space and creating her own shop will be Lisa Eisenman, the floral magician who used to work out of Food Mart. Florists in OG have faced challenges in the recent past, but maybe Lisa’s name recognition, strong following and reasonable overhead will spell success.
Bakery: Don’t know much about the new guys opening here, but I’ve gotta tell you, possibly the number one thing people have said we need in OG is a really good bakery.
Fred: Reopening in the spot vacated by the Funhouse.
Arcadia Café: They got their beer and wine permit so they are on their way to converting to the family-style restaurant so many people have been clamoring for. No pressure, right?
Frozen Yogurt: very interesting how out of their minds some people got over Dunkin Donuts being a chain store soiling our town, yet I personally have not heard one peep about Yoforia opening it’s 20th franchise location in OG and competing with other local businesses. Hmmm.
Add to all that the three design studios bringing people in from all over not just Greenwich, but CT and NY, the new spaces down by Feinsods, and some very attractive existing clothing stores, restaurants and unique shops, and we have the elements in place to be a very vibrant, interesting business community. Now we have to support it. Have to.
By the time First Light rolls around, Old Greenwich will have multiple restaurant choices, several clothing boutiques, several options for snacks and treats, a place to do all your grocery shopping, art, jewelry, craft and kitchen item stores. Everything we’ve always said we wanted (including a Village Improvement Committee working on the overall look of the downtown area), except for a shoe store. Can’t believe how many people have told me they want a shoe store. The retailers have done their part, they’re putting themselves out there. The rest is up to us.