Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 37
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
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Spirit of Collaboration Key Theme for Princeton Merchants Association

Dilshanie Perera

With a name change, the Princeton Merchants Association (PMA), formerly the Borough Merchants for Princeton, has expanded its scope, goals, and structure. As they kicked off their inaugural meeting under the newly-elected leadership on Tuesday morning at the Nassau Inn, the room was packed with local business owners and employees, as well as elected officials, administrators, and Princeton University staff.

“We are now one business community, encompassing the whole footprint of Princeton” announced PMA President Travis Linderman of the MacLean Agency.

A unified merchants community is what is needed for strong business, and “having you all here and communicating, is what makes this organization vibrant,” Mr. Linderman said of the merchants association.

“There have been challenges, and our businesses have adjusted,” Mr. Linderman acknowledged, “but it doesn’t matter how the economy is doing; there is a lot of life here.”

The 2009-2010 Board of Directors for the Princeton Merchants Association include Mr. Linderman, Vice President Anita Fresolone of Palmer Square Management, Treasurer Lori Rabon of the Nassau Inn, and Secretary Doris Figueroa of The Place to Bead.

Other directors are Kefi Abramov of Heartland Payment Systems; Mark Censits of Cool Vines; Alan Dowler of Hamilton Jewelers; Nancy Matozas of Nassau Group Real Estate; Fran McManus of the Whole Earth Center; Jack Morrison of the Witherspoon Grill, Blue Point Grill, and Nassau Street Seafood; and past President Kathie Morolda of Cranbury Station Gallery.

During the meeting, Township Deputy Mayor Chad Goerner praised PMA for being “way ahead of the governing bodies,” in that the organization “recognizes that we are really one town.”

Indeed, members of other merchants organizations in town were at the PMA meeting, with some attending for the first time. Since announcing its expansion, the association has grown by at least one or two members per day, Mr. Linderman reported.

New members, of which there are currently 43, hail from all over town, including Nassau and Witherspoon Streets, and the Princeton Shopping Center.

Mr. Linderman mentioned “other initiatives that have started that we are in support of,” referring to Hometown Princeton, an organization promoting buying local, the advertising campaign of which PMA is partly underwriting.

Adding that the goals of PMA are not to duplicate or reproduce already-existing services, Mr. Linderman said the association seeks to determine where needs exist, and work to solve them.

“How do we fulfill the needs of all of our customers?” Mr. Linderman asked, adding that when gaps in service are identified, PMA would recruit new business into the area to meet the need. “These are the kinds of challenges that we’re going to start addressing immediately.”

Encouraging those present to converse and connect with one another, Mr. Linderman characterized PMA as serving both as a foundation and a support network, declaring that “we do not want any business in Princeton to fail.”

Currently, PMA is “revolutionizing” its website, in order to disseminate information to the outside world as well as to its members.

Mr. Linderman envisions using the PMA web presence to assist merchants in building their own websites. Future initiatives include staff training sessions, leveraging Princeton’s rich history (“These kinds of stories go a long way”), marketing to University students and staff, and decorating the town for the holidays.

“We need to make sure the best and brightest ideas get out there,” Mr. Linderman said.

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