First West Concord Give Back Day Is a Hit with All
Businesses see increased traffic and non profits benefit from community exposure and funds.
The blustery weather didn’t keep shoppers and supporters of Concord nonprofits away from the first-ever West Concord Give Back Day on Saturday.
Green and purple balloons festooned Commonwealth Avenue where merchants teamed up to support local nonprofits. Five percent of the day’s sales will be pooled and then donated to 10 Concord charities. Participating businesses include: Dabbler’s, Debra’s Natural Gourmet, Firefly, Merlin’s Silver Star Studio, Nashoba Brook Bakery Café, noa jewelry, fine handcrafts & gifts, Phillips Fine Paint, Quilter’s Way, Reflections, and the West Concord 5 & 10.
The event will hopefully be the start of a new tradition, according to Debra Stark, owner of Debra’s Natural Gourmet. Stark, along with noa’s Barbara Scofidio, and Hilary Taylor of Merlin’s Silver Star Studio came up with the idea of new annual event that would bring together local merchants and customers to support nonprofits serving Concord. The Concord Chamber of Commerce helped organize the event.
Pamela Bracco, steering committee member for Musketaquid arts and environment at Emerson Umbrella, manned a table near the front of Phillips Fine Paint. It was replete with information and craft projects related to the April 30 Musketquid celebration and parade.
“Musketaquid is a community building program, so it made sense to reach out to the business community,” she said. And it was a good match. Phillips’ owner, Dan Schmidt told Patch the store does a “lot of work with the Umbrella and with people in the building.” Having known Umbrella Executive Director, Carrie Flood since school days, he added, “it’s like a whole family thing.”
That community feeling was palpable along the street, with nonprofit representatives working along side their merchant hosts. Ying Cooper, a friendly and gracious saleswoman at Debra’s reminded each customer that their purchases would benefit charities, including the Open Table and Communities for Restorative Justice who had information tables set up near her register. Concord Council on Aging’s Lori Kalinoski and Carol Dromgoole and Dabbler’s owner, Randy Hartnet all agreed it had been a good day all around – even at noon. Said Hartnett, who supplied the balloons, “we like doing things with the community, the Chamber, and our fellow retailers. Adding a customer to the street, brings a customer for everyone.”
“Things were bustling,” said Gail Tombeno, owner of Reflections, which hosted the Friends of the Concord Library. “It was a great way to make people aware about shopping locally.”
It was good for the nonprofits too. “We were in the 5 & 10,” said Alison Field-Juma, Executive Director, Organization for the Assabet River. “We handed out maps of the river, and almost everyone took one,” she said. “That started a conversation, and a high percentage were really interested in what we have to say.”
A silent auction and reception rounded out the day. About 100 people showed up at Merlin’s Silver Star to bid on items and enjoy hors d’oeuvres provided by Slowpokes and Vincenzo’s the private-labeled Concord line of wines from West Concord Liquors, and strawberries with excruciatingly delicious chocolate from Debra’s Natural Gourmet. A bidding war started for a dinner for four cooked by Debra. Jewelry from noa and Merlin’s, along with a private tour of the JFK Library and Museum, donated by Concord’s Domestic Violence Services Network, had bidders scrambling to get their names down.
Petra Betts, an Open Table volunteer said she shopped in the village, and then came by hoping to win one of two $100 gift certificates donated by Middlesex Savings Bank. They were won by David Hegerty and Joan Weslowski.
The day was a big hit, said Stephanie Stillman, Executive Director, Concord Chamber of Commerce. Even before the auction proceeds were counted, she expected up to $4,000 might be shared by the non-profits.
“It will be the start of a new tradition. I’ve already had several more businesses and nonprofits ask me if they can be part of this next year!”