Letter: Lose your Amazon account, support Darien businesses this holiday season

To the Editor:

Most importantly, I hope that this letter finds you, your family and friends all healthy and well following the craziness we have experienced, as a community, over these last few months.

When the shelter-in-place order was implemented in Connecticut in March, small business owners in Darien feared the possibility of losing everything that they had built over many years, sometimes decades. Many of them pivoted quickly, adjusting to the new realities of the market and operating constraints they faced. Some of them are still struggling mightily. With your support, many of our local businesses have been able to endure the challenges created by COVID-19.

Your support, as expressed verbally and through your patronage, has made a world of difference for so many. It has often been said that one of the greatest characteristics of our community is that when the chips are down for one of us, we rally to support our neighbor in need. Many of you did this for our local businesses during this period, and we will all be forever indebted to you. I wanted to take a moment to thank you for all of your support since March. It has truly made a world of difference.

Since beginning construction of The Corbin District, I have met with countless business owners from New York City and the region who are considering establishing a presence in Darien, and on these tours, most all remark about how vibrant our downtown feels, especially when compared to some of our neighbors.

At the present time, there are only two vacant spaces in downtown Darien, and I understand that these empty storefronts will soon be leased. Most of us have always felt civic pride in our community, and appreciate the many great businesses located here. My sense is that this pride has been amplified as so many of us have been so much more present over the last months. This is, surely, a silver lining of the COVID-19 crisis.

With regard to Penny Glassmeyer’s and my efforts to transform Darien’s downtown into an even more pedestrian friendly place where we can shop, dine, play, live and work, many of you have asked what you can do to help. Here is my request, on behalf of all of our local merchants. Be conscious of the difference you can make by shopping locally, versus online. Our store owners are your neighbors, many of them are your friends, and they are the ones you reach out to when the nonprofit you are working with needs a donation.

They are the businesses that sponsor your child’s baseball or hockey team. They are the people that give your downtown its texture and character. Our local businesses need you this holiday season more than ever before. I recognize how easy it is to point and click and shop online, to go to Amazon for the holiday season from the comfort of your home. But let’s really be mindful this season of the difference we can make by shopping locally.

If you are not comfortable visiting a store right now, just pick up the phone and call the store for curbside pickup. If you would like for your gifts to be delivered to your home, we will help make that happen .— just ask!

We are working closely with the Darien Chamber of Commerce this holiday season in offering up a challenge. This year, every time you shop locally, take a photo of the great item you bought locally, with you and the and post the photo on Instagram and tag @thecorbindistrict and @darienctchamber, and the store you are in.

Every week, we pick 12 winners from among the posts, and each winner receives a gift certificate from a store he or she picks, for $250! On Dec. 24th, we will pick a grand prize winner from among the entrants, for a vacation at The Ocean House in Watch Hill, Rhode Island, The Taconic Hotel in Manchester, Vermont, or Hero Beach Resort in Montauk. Each post you create will count as one entry into the drawing, so the more you shop, the greater your odds of winning!

Thank you again for all that you do to make Darien the great place that it is. We will continue to do our best to recruit the most exciting, interesting stores and restaurants. Remember, though, that without your support, our efforts will not be sustainable. Together, we can make our downtown the envy of the region, and a place where countless memories of fun with friends and family will be created. I wake up each morning grateful for the opportunity before me and my partners to improve downtown Darien. On behalf of our team, thank you for your faith and confidence in us.

David Genovese

Baywater Properties