Vol. LXIV, No. 25
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
With its focus to remain on supporting local, independent businesses, Hometown Princeton plans to expand its membership base and to seek area sponsors and friends who could assist in supporting the organization. Participating merchants gathered at the Nassau Inn last Thursday to determine the course of the groups future.
Retailer Nick Hilton, who founded Hometown Princeton last year with other local merchants, noted that they still wanted shoppers and business owners to utilize the informational aspect of the organization, namely, the website. He also suggested that smaller independent stores could benefit from marketing efforts in which they might not otherwise have invested.
The main source of debate during the brainstorming session centered on whether Hometown Princeton should become an extension of the Princeton Merchants Association (PMA), or whether it should remain separate.
We have strict membership criteria, Mr. Hilton noted, saying that ways to reconcile the broad scope of the merchants association with the particular focus of Hometown Princeton had not yet been resolved in discussions with the PMA.
Fran McManus of the Whole Earth Center remarked that the big issue is the language about independent business, and Barry Weisfield of the Princeton Record Exchange pointed out that even larger chain stores benefit from a diverse town center.
Agreeing with Mr. Weisfelds assessment, Mark Bovenizer said that as a landowner, I want the whole of Princeton to thrive. JaZams owner Joanne Farrugia likewise emphasized that those who care about our town should be reminded that they are nothing if not for a vibrant downtown.
The question boils down to: How does our voice as independent merchants benefit from consolidation with PMA? Mr. Hilton observed.
By the meetings end, the merchants of Hometown Princeton, many of whom also belong to PMA, agreed to approach the organization to determine whether a kind of limited merger could be established for better collaboration and coordination between the two entities.
Lewis Wildman of Jordans suggested that they expand their scope beyond independent retailers and restauranteurs to locally owned service companies, including plumbers, contractors, doctors, dentists, and lawyers.
Reaching out to corporate sponsors and individual donors is another area of focus that emerged from the meeting. The sponsors they reach out to first would likely be area corporations.
Our real effort in the summer months will be to increase sponsorship and membership for the September to December ad campaign, Mr. Hilton said.
Interested members may sign up prior to September 1. Visit hometownprinceton.com for more information.
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