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Natural Awakenings Central New Jersey

Buy Local

Dec 30, 2014 08:36PM
Martin Resnick, whose family has been part of Flemington’s business community for over 50 years and owns the Flemington Department Store, says support of local businesses is vital to every aspect of any town’s health.

“Local businesses hire local people and support local programs,” said Mr. Resnick, who manages the department store. “The children of the owners of local businesses go to local schools. They have more concern for those schools and other areas of community life than a big, distant company – especially a company that sells you merchandise from a website.”

Every resident, including Mr. Resnick and other merchants, is highly sensitive to the issue of property taxes. “Businesses pay property taxes,” he said. “If you ignore local businesses, you’re ignoring a major part of your local tax base. If you take away all your local businesses, your property taxes are going to double or triple.”

Chris Gacos, owner of Sneakers Plus in Flemington, said his business is called upon to support many local efforts. “At Sneakers Plus, we receive a request for some type of donation or help practically every day,” he said. "Sneakers Plus does what we can afford to support these many requests.”

Local businesses donate sweat equity as well as money, Mr. Gacos said. During his 35 years with Sneakers Plus, he’s served as chairperson for a number of community efforts and events, including the Hunterdon County Holiday Parade and the Flemington Rotary Club Pancake Day. “Successful local businesses live in, believe in and support their local community,” he said. “They demonstrate that belief and support by hiring local students as workers, by supporting students in their extra curriculum activities such as sports, plays, clubs and religious choices. Sneakers Plus has hired over 500 students over the years. Today we now have second-generation students whose parents worked at Sneakers Plus over 25 years ago. Giving back to their community is the life line of a good local business. I hope local shoppers will understand who is hiring their children and who is supporting their town.”

The contentions of Mr. Resnick and Mr. Gacos that locally-based businesses put much more of their resources back into their community than chain stores do is borne out by research published by the American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA). That research, performed throughout the country by the private firm Civic Economics, found that “on average, 48 percent of each purchase at local independent businesses was re-circulated locally, compared to less than 14 percent of purchases at chain stores.”

Ralph Celebre, owner of the Basil Bandwagon Natural Market in Flemington since he opened the business 21 years ago, said: “I’ve often wondered why people spend so much money in the big box stores. Through my customers, I’ve learned how important it is to support local businesses. It really makes a big difference in your community if you shop locally.”

Mr. Celebre stressed that businesses, as well as residents, should shop locally. “In my store, a great deal of what we offer for sale is produced locally. We have local produce, local popcorn, local chips and other snacks. . .you name it. Our most popular line of supplements is our own. The other supplements we sell, I’m proud to say, are made by a New Jersey company.”

Carol Todd, who has owned and operated the Market Roost with her husband Norman Todd since 1981, agreed that local businesses supporting each other is as key to commercial health as residents supporting those businesses. “The Grill Shack here in town buys my desserts to sell,” Ms. Todd said. “They tell people where she got those desserts and send them to us. While we catering a wedding, we referred the couple to Black Lab Studio to get their photography done. When my husband and I wanted to buy a camera a while back, we went to Black Lab to buy it. It’s important for residents to support businesses too, of course.”

As to what Flemington’s business community and local government can do to make the town’s commercial life more robust, Ms. Todd stressed that “the lack of retail establishments in town is an issue. These are different times, I know, but I really believe we have got to pro-actively seek retail. There’s not enough walking traffic in town now. More retail could really change that.”

Flemington Councilwoman Dorothy Fine said: “The empty storefronts in town are few, but they are big spaces that command a lot of money. I really do encourage people to buy locally. Some events we’ve had in town have given a boost. Shops stayed open late and got extra business during Thursday Night Lights. I know the restaurants did very well then. The Jazz Fest helped a lot, too.”

Ms. Todd said: “Yes, the events like the Jazz Fest are great. But they’re one-shot deals. I feel very positive about this town, I always have. But, again, we need everyday foot traffic, so we need more retail.”

Sharon Hill, longtime owner of the Art of Framing shop in town, urged local people to become part of the “foot traffic” brigade now. Doing so will bring pleasant surprises, she said. “So many special services are available right here in our community,” she said. “Take a walk and see what’s here.”

Since 1998, Hopewell Valley Community Bank has had one primary objective: better meeting the needs of local citizens within the communities that it serves. We are committed to building a reputation for excellence, being a responsible neighbor in the communities we serve, delivering our products and services with the care and professionalism…exceeding expectations.

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