By Mary Marvin, Mayor, Village of Bronxville
Sep. 25, 2019: Thanks to the picture-perfect weather and the quantity and quality of merchandise, the chamber of commerce-sponsored fall sidewalk sale was a huge success this past weekend. Again, our merchants stepped up and made the village colorful, crowded, and vibrant. The sidewalk sale is also the traditional kick-off to the fall shopping season for our stores. As you can guess, our loyal merchants often have very quiet July and August months and look forward to the return of villagers. September also presents an opportunity to reiterate how much we need our merchants and how much they depend on us.
Bronxville has one of the highest concentrations of locally owned independent businesses in the county--some with us 20, even 50 years. They are true stalwarts of our community. Not only do they offer unique, well-curated goods, they give that personal attention so lacking in the mail order business--the opportunity to touch, fit, and feel that is so much a part of a good purchase. The personal touch extends beyond to perhaps a special order, a beautifully wrapped package, or a home delivery to your door. If the gift turns out not to be perfect, it need not be bubble wrapped and dropped at a FedEx outlet, rather, gracefully handed to a shopkeeper for an exchange.
Unlike the big box stores or the mail order behemoths, our local merchants have supported our fundraisers, school festivals, and local bazaars with goods and gift certificates for decades. Beyond their special one-to-one connection with residents, their presence in our village also produces a wonderful ripple effect, both for other merchants and quite frankly the village’s bottom line.
Merchants buy parking permits, pay taxes, buy goods and food from their fellow merchants, and use the services of local professionals including lawyers, accountants, computer consultants, and graphic designers. As Michael Bloomberg said, “Small businesses are the real job creators. If you add a government job, you added one employment opportunity. If a small business opens, the ripple effect begins.”
Our merchants' presence in the village produces the delightful confluence of strollers and seniors connecting on our sidewalks with intergenerational energy and discourse.
These interpersonal interactions, according to many studies, are actually good for your health. According to a well-received TED Talk by Susan Pinker, a social science reporter for the Wall Street Journal, social integration and interaction with people as you move through your day are as much a factor of life expectancy as health risks including smoking, drinking, and heart disease. So talking with the person making your coffee is actually a strong predictor of your longevity!
Merchant/resident interaction also contributes directly to the financial health of the village. As a municipality, we have received sales tax revenues of approximately $860,000, on average, over the last 13 years. With a spending increase or revenue loss in the village of just $80,000, equating to a full tax point increase, I can’t even imagine our budget without this revenue source. As example, because of the turn-away from shopping locally, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts now pegs sales tax revenue losses at $335 million annually, and California’s number approaches $1 billion. Can you imagine the repairs to roads, bridges, and subsurface infrastructure that could happen if this money were a revenue source and not a loss?
Our beautiful streetscape is the result of the unsung heroes of our chamber of commerce, currently led by Leah Caro, president, and Michelle MacMillan, vice president. Our merchants take great pride in their storefronts. One only has to think of the pristine cleanliness of the sidewalk café at Underhills Crossing and thanks to Bob Krauss of Mrs. Morgan’s Flower Shop, Parkway Road has been transformed into a Parisian allée.
Our farmers' market is also a chamber of commerce-sponsored offshoot founded by former chamber executive director Mary Liz Mulligan. The market was one of the first in its kind in Westchester County. It is now so popular with vendors that we have a fairly deep waiting list. Happening every Saturday from now until Thanksgiving from 8:30 am to 1:00 pm, the market is adjacent to the paddle courts and has purveyors of all kinds of produce, meats, cheese, bread, and artisanal products.
In a very promising development, the chamber of commerce recently hired village resident Shannon Hurley Gangemi as its new executive director. Shannon retired from the financial world to raise her three children, who are current students at the Bronxville School. She has her pulse on the community, as she has been a volunteer for Saint Joseph’s Church, the Bronxville School, and the Junior League.
Please help to make the fall season a vibrant, successful one for our local merchants. It’s a win for all of us.
Pictured here: Mary Marvin.
Photo by A. Warner
Editor's note: As a public service, MyhometownBronxville publishes articles from local institutions, officeholders, and individuals. MyhometownBronxville does not fact-check statements therein, and any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the thinking of its staff.