(Bethel, Connecticut) – June 7, 2012 – We want the town to celebrate will all Bethel High School graduates next week! Surprise them with a bouquet of balloons delivered to their homes the night before graduation!
“The day of my daughter’s graduation from high school we woke up and found a bouquet of balloons on our front door. It was so nice to know someone was thinking of her on her special day and took the time to do such a nice thing.” Says Hilda DeLucia, Director, Pro Access. “That’s where I got the idea to do this for this year’s graduating seniors.”
For $15 Pro Access, Bethel’s Teen Center will deliver 1 mylar graduation balloon and 2 latex balloons along with your personalized note to the graduate’s home. Phoebe Ziegler, Brooke Ferraro and Chandler Gray have been taking orders at school this week and say the kids love the idea. “It’s so nice to think that you’ll be driving around next week and seeing all these graduation balloons all around Bethel,” said Phoebe, a Junior at Bethel High. Brooke Ferraro, the Student Advisory Rep to the Bethel Youth Commission, helped come up with the idea and says she can’t wait till she graduates next year and have this happen for her and her friends.
To place your order email Hilda DeLucia at firstname.lastname@example.org for a form or go online to www.bethelproaccess.org and download the form from the calendar page. The form can be found underneath the calendar. Proceeds from this fundraiser will go to Pro Access’ programs and services. Pro Access, Bethel’s Teen Center is located at 1 School Street. It provides programs, activities and trips for Bethel students in grades 7 to 12.
The “Occupy Downtown Bethel” Challenge ~ By Wendy Mitchell
The Bethel Chamber of Commerce recently launched a “Shop Bethel” rewards program to stimulate the local economy and help shoppers save. By creating this money-saving campaign, dollars stay on the local level. The launch of the program has gotten locals talking, and debating.
Executive Director of the Bethel Chamber of Commerce, Bobbi Jo Beers said: “I love the fact the “Shop Bethel” campaign is getting people talking. The solution needs to start somewhere.”
Many residents said they would like to see a Starbucks, Talbots, Chico’s, American Apparel or other larger chain store come to downtown Bethel while local shop owners argued that this would only hurt, not help, independents. Many Bethelites blame inconvenience or lack of variety on their decision to shop at big box retailers instead of downtown. One resident said she does not shop downtown because she does not want to shop for just “used books, antiques, or gift baskets.”
Other residents said: “Nobody browses at an Irish dance place or a yoga studio.” While others said “We don’t need another coffee shop or pizza place.”
What these residents fail to realize is that the parents who drop off their children at the Irish Dance Studio or go to yoga are shoppers and people who frequent the local downtown establishments. By buying at big box retailers because items are a little cheaper, shoppers are hurting the local economy.
Here is what some local store owners had to say:
Wendy Cahill, owner of Molten Java: “The pervasive attitude among those that advocate big box stores downtown is that convenience and cookie cutter product should be moved a few miles closer to their front doors. What they aren’t experiencing is the amazing community and culture that exists inside every one of our locally owned businesses. The diversity and quality of the products is amazing, but more important, is the care and personal service we are devoted to. Chains will eliminate small business one by one and we will lose the very special personality that so many of us are proud of.”
Ray Flanigan, owner of Bethel Photoworks: “One of my frustrations is getting people around the corner. I have a problem with spring, summer, fall weekends, where all kinds of vendors “Occupy Greenwood Ave.” and also the Municipal Center Lawn. I lose out on those weekends while people who don’t pay any rent all year-long can do quite well for themselves selling art, photos, crafts, etc.”
Cahill offered a suggestion to his problem: “Maybe the Chamber and Town needs to offer free tables to brick and mortar businesses at any town festival or vended event.” The brick and mortar stores are the ones who pay rent and taxes year round and if people do not support them there will be more vacant storefronts.
In an earlier article on Bethel Buzz, Sean and Ryan Clifford, owners of True Value Bethel, stressed the importance of keeping it local: “What people don’t realize, is how many household items can be found here such as blenders, kitchen gadgets and small appliances. People don’t think of us for items like that and will go to Wal-Mart or Target but it’s so important to support the local businesses here in town. Everything you need can be found right here in Bethel. It’s supporting each other that will enable Bethel’s downtown to survive,” owner Ryan Clifford said.
The Occupy Wall Street movement has gained momentum and inspiring others to protest the inequality in wealth in our nation. Rather than spending our money in places where a part-time employee is making $8.50 an hour and passes for an “expert,” locals should patronize businesses where the owners have specialized knowledge and are willing to share it.
American Express encourages Americans to “Shop Small” on Small Business Saturday, the day after Black Friday. The 3/50 Project‘s mission is “Saving the brick and mortars our nation was built on.” They ask shoppers to pick three stores they don’t want to see go out of business and spend $50 once a month in each once. But why not adopt this attitude more than just once a year? As consumers, we shouldn’t need to be reminded that shopping local is the best way to support our communities and help redistribute the wealth.
According to the Institute of Civic Economics, 68% of our spending dollars stay in the local economy when spent at local businesses. With big box retailers, that number drops down to 43%, according to RestoringDemocracy.org.
For those who want to see change but wish to take a different approach than the “Occupy Wall Street” protesters, I propose another movement on a much smaller scale on a local level. My challenge to Bethel residents is to “Occupy Downtown Bethel.” This challenge focuses on increasing spending at small businesses by participating in the “Shop Bethel” rewards program and by getting out and exploring our downtown.
This week I challenge you to “Occupy Downtown Bethel” by spending just one day this week or next exploring downtown Bethel. Park your car at the top of Greenwood Avenue and make your way down to P.T. Barnum Square. Check out all the shops have to offer and try some of the wonderful downtown restaurants.
Keep making your way down Greenwood Ave. and browse the many local shops by actually stepping inside, not just driving or walking past quickly. Continue down to Depot Street and check out the shops by the train station and in the plaza up on the hill across from Agway.
Make your way back onto Greenwood Ave. in the next two plazas and visit the many shops and restaurants if only just to pop your head in to check it out– outward appearances can be deceiving. Now cross over to Dolan Plaza and finish your day by exploring the great shops and eateries there.
If you’re really up for the challenge, head even further down Greenwood Ave. to the many shops near Bethel Cinema and The Sycamore. Or plan another day for that part of town and the Stony Hill area.
The main challenge with “Occupy Downtown Bethel” is to get out and explore our town. Stop inside these establishments and see for yourself all they have to offer. Get out there and see some of the amazing art and culture our town has. Meet the owners of the businesses you are supporting. Buy something from the shop owner you are asking for a donation from for your child’s sports or band boosters program. Many shop owners say they would be happy to donate if the people asking for the donations for the fundraisers actually shopped in their stores. Does Wal-Mart, Target or Toys ‘R’ Us donate to support your local football team, Relay for Life or other charitable local organization? Our downtown shops do support them, and on a regular basis. Rather than complaining about all the vacant storefronts let’s do something about it and be part of the solution!
Top 10 Reasons to Support Locally Owned Businesses
1. Local Character and Prosperity
In an increasingly homogenized world, communities that preserve their one-of-a-kind businesses and distinctive character have an economic advantage.
2. Community Well-Being
Locally owned businesses build strong communities by sustaining vibrant town centers, linking neighbors in a web of economic and social relationships, and contributing to local causes.
3. Local Decision-Making
Local ownership ensures that important decisions are made locally by people who live in the community and who will feel the impacts of those decisions.
4. Keeping Dollars in the Local Economy
Compared to chain stores, locally owned businesses recycle a much larger share of their revenue back into the local economy, enriching the whole community.
5. Job and Wages
Locally owned businesses create more jobs locally and, in some sectors, provide better wages and benefits than chains do.
Entrepreneurship fuels America’s economic innovation and prosperity, and serves as a key means for families to move out of low-wage jobs and into the middle class.
7. Public Benefits and Costs
Local stores in town centers require comparatively little infrastructure and make more efficient use of public services relative to big box stores and strip shopping malls.
8. Environmental Sustainability
Local stores help to sustain vibrant, compact, walkable town centers-which in turn are essential to reducing sprawl, automobile use, habitat loss, and air and water pollution.
A marketplace of tens of thousands of small businesses is the best way to ensure innovation and low prices over the long-term.
10. Product Diversity
A multitude of small businesses, each selecting products based, not on a national sales plan, but on their own interests and the needs of their local customers, guarantees a much broader range of product choices.
The Mercurial Gallery in downtown Danbury, Connecticut will be showing works by local tattoo artists from June 9 through July 20 in the exhibit ‘Body of Work’. An opening reception for the exhibit will take place on Saturday, June 9 from 12pm to 5pm and will include an artist meet and greet and live tattoo demonstrations. Tattooed attendees are encouraged to show off their own “bodies of work” at the opening reception.
Five Connecticut tattoo artists are being featured in ‘Body of Work’: Eric Chapman and Bretnon Vaughan of New Milford’s Canvas Tattoo, Chris Tavino of Danbury’s Hat City Tattoo, Mark Fernicola of New Haven, and Christopher Olszewski, apprentice at West Haven Tattoo in West Haven. The gallery is accepting additional submissions from tattoo artists through June 2. For more information, email email@example.com.
Tavino, owner of Hat City Tattoo, began tattooing in early 2006 and prefers to work in the bold lines and bright colors of American traditional style. Tavino grew up just over the Connecticut border in Brewster, New York and now lives in Danbury with his wife and young son.
Olszewski, 25, lists Tavino as one of his influences, along with Thom deVita, Nico Acosta, Eli Quinters, Tomas Vasquez and Daniel Albrigo. Olszewski graduated from Western Connecticut State University in 2010 with degrees in graphic design and photography and recently started an appreticeship at West Haven Tattoo.
Featured artist Brenton Vaughan will be performing at the gallery with his Americana rock band, The Hat City Ramblers, on Saturday July 7 and 7pm following an opening performance by Russ Preston at 6:30pm.
The ‘Body of Work’ opening reception on June 9 is a part of Greater Danbury Open House Day (GDOHD), a collective event created by the grassroots group Arts Network of Danbury to encourage tourism at local arts, culture and history establishments. Kids can get a fun GDOHD activity passport online or at any GDOHD venue. For more information, visit greaterdanburyopenhouseday.wordpress.com.