By Mary C. Marvin, Mayor, Village of Bronxville
Approaching a seminal anniversary of 75 years serving the village, the Chamber’s history is colorful and enduring.
Even well before it incorporated, some businesses were already serving the community, including McGrath’s, which will be celebrating its 100th anniversary.
Mrs. Morgan’s Flower Shop, owned by Chamber dynamo Bob Krause, aka not Mr. Morgan, has been an active member dating back to records from 1943. Nick at Continental recently celebrated fifty years of beautifying Bronxville at his Pondfield Road location.
For very modest yearly dues of $225 and only $125 for nonprofits, the Chamber is remarkably creative in enlivening the village streets and promoting our local merchants. Not limited to just merchants, current membership in the Chamber includes service industries, physicians, restaurants, and nonprofits and local community organizations that are active community boosters. As example, both colleges – Concordia and Sarah Lawrence – are supportive and engaged partners with the Chamber.
As to ideas and staffing, any event downtown is entirely the brainchild of Chamber members and staffed entirely with sweat equity.
I apologize in advance for not recognizing by name legions of volunteers who have shaped the Chamber since its inception.
The Bronxville Farmers' Market, used as a template throughout the county, was organized by the then-executive director of the Chamber, Mary Liz Mulligan, in 2001. It was successful from the minute it opened.
Our Halloween festival on the west side was the brainchild of Bob Krause of Mrs. Morgan’s, and he continues as an active board member. The Halloween Parade is kindly sponsored by the Bronxville School’s Youth Council, and our merchants are willing partners as they invite the youngsters to trick-or-treat at all their businesses on the way home.
The highly successful – with local band Plan B a top drawer – concerts in the street were started by village resident and former chamber director Michele MacMillan, a Chamber board member. Bob Krause also teamed with Wayne Chesler of Park123 Restaurant to launch the village car show.
Most recently, John Lugano of Pete’s Park Place collaborated with the Chamber for a first-ever and highly successful Oktoberfest.
Other yearly events, again done on a successful financial and manpower shoestring, include spring and fall sidewalk sales, small business Saturday, the merchants’ ugly sweater contest, and, of course, the tree and menorah lighting.
Without the generosity of corporate sponsors including most notably NewYork-Presbyterian Lawrence Hospital, many events would be cost-prohibitive to undertake.
Pepe Auto Group is also a great friend of the Chamber's. Often very quietly, our landlords, building owners, and even individual merchants give generously to allow events to proceed.
The Chamber’s list of former directors reads like a who’s who of involvement and energy in the village. The first executive director was villager Robert Rabsey’s mom. Peggy Theiss, Mary Liz Mulligan, Michele MacMillan, Peggy Conway, Ruth Wood, Susan Miele, and Barbara Amar, now owner of the village mainstay SilverSpoon, followed so ably, each with their own distinct style.
Currently, at the helm is Nicole Tuck, a Sagamore Road resident and the mom of a daughter in each of Bronxville’s three schools.
If you would like to lend a hand and see even more events in the village, the Chamber would be most appreciative of any support. Their office location is 51 Pondfield Road, Suite 6. You can now follow the Chamber on Instagram @bronxvillechamber to sign up for current Bronxville deals, steals, and meals!
In closing, in the realm of “the more things change, the more they remain the same,” former executive director Mary Liz Mulligan relayed a wonderful memory. On her first day on the job and a bit at sea, she thought, “I’ll educate myself by reading the files.” Literally, what she first happened upon was an old Review Press article from the early 1950s lamenting the lack of parking and resulting headaches in the village!
Photo by A. Warner