One of the words that has climbed way up in the curent 'fashionable terms' list of dictionaries is "Networking". There are obviously a lot of different kinds of networking, but social and small business networking is a craze and has shown to be extremely successful in boosting both small businesses and a village's brand as a worthy shopping center to visit. Certainly it took the Center Stage in the Village of Washingtonville this Holiday Season. Networking made a grand presence, fostered by the Blooming Grove Chamber of Commerce and support by Walden Savings Bank, through multiple events, including Halloween "Whoville" that this year included a string of exciting small events (including a drive-in movie and mechanical bucking bronco) along with the phenomenal traditional Washingtonville Halloween Parade, which brings groups and fire departments from the entire tri-state area. The events created perhaps the village's biggest series of celebratory events in the village's history. The Christmas "Grinch" further tied the celebrations together by popping up here and there by surprise. Then Martha Barrera, Branch Manager of the local Walden Savings Bank, opened up the bank's lobby for small business craft displays.
Alma Gonzalez of Mamba's Creations store at Fulton Square worked with Robbie O'Quinn of iHeart Hudson Valley and invented a "Jolly Holiday Marketplace" event that was ongoing for the month of December at Fulton Square.
First, the Jolly Holiday Market (the correct name for the event) that was ongoing for the month of December was a co-production between Mamba’s Creations and iHeart Hudson Valley. A troop of helper elves painted the store windows and store interior with bright Christmas decorations and divided the space for craft and other small business tables, put on holiday music and welcomed shoppers throughout the month of December.
A few of the dozens of participants'
What's all this "Networking" and new events in Washingtonville about? Village residents want to make its center into "THE" walkable social and business place that people want to be, like some other towns such as Warwick do. By networking/ getting all the businesses working together, the atmosphere becomes a walkable space that brings people together. And that it did, throughout the entire holiday season. Not only did store owners get to know each other better, customers that came to visit one business would stop by the other tables and form friendships with those business owners as well, thus building a nice future customer base. And since Fulton Square is located right at the entrance to the Village on Route 208, the Jolly Holiday Market's outdoor tables, decorations and foot trucks invited guests to stop in who were 'just passing through' and had not even planned to shop.
The key for the Chamber and businesses is how they can carry this new and improved networking model through January and the rest of the cold winter ahead and beyond. With the creative ideas they have shown so far, we can expect some additional surprise events to pop up and entice folks out for some deep freeze fun.
Below are just a few photo displays of the small businesses that participated in "Shop Small" and Holiday Marketplace events along with participants' business cards, right up to Christmas Eve.
Flowers from Mamba's Creations