The Start of a New Giving Tradition
First annual West Concord Give Back Day to bring together retailers and nonprofits.
It’s easy to see why creativity abounds in Merlin’s Silver Star Studio on Beharrell Street. With its brightly colored worktables and furniture, draped ceiling cloths, and inviting open space, ideas happen.
That’s where three local businesswomen hatched the plan for the First Annual West Concord Give Back Day to be held Saturday, March 26 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., followed by a Silent Auction.
“It’s the start of a new tradition,” said 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. “We have some great non-profits in our community and this is a way to bring them together with the terrific retailers in West Concord,” said Stark.
On March 26, 10 participating retailers will each host a Concord charity in their stores. Five percent of the day’s sales will be pooled and then donated to the 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.
Stephanie Stillman, executive director of the Concord Chamber of Commerce jumped right on board. “We had been thinking of ways to encourage business in West Concord,” she said. “This year there was more Pajama Day involvement and very positive feedback from merchants and customers.”
Pajama Day was begun several years ago by Stark. She offered discounts and encouraged customers to show up to her store in their PJs one day at the start of the holiday season. For West Concord Give Back Day Stillman helped to identify participating charities, while the businesswomen “communicated with our friends on the street,” said Scofidio.
“We are all involved in supporting non-profits,” said Taylor. “But we wanted the focus to be specific to Concord.” Participating Concord charities include: Open Table, Communities for Restorative Justice (C4RJ), Concord Council on Aging, Domestic Violence Services Network, Emerson Umbrella, Friends of the Concord Free Public Library, Minuteman ARC, Organization for the Assabet River (OAR), and the Concord-Carlisle Community Chest. Representatives of each group will be in the stores to share their missions with shoppers.
Stillman is developing a West Concord Give Back Day Passport to encourage shoppers to visit more than one store and learn about more than one charity. First created in 2004 as a Holiday Passport for Concord Center, the passport will stamped with a purchase at each store, then is eligible for a drawing for one of two $100 Gift of Concord Gift Certificates donated by the Chamber and by Middlesex Savings Bank. “All the money stays in Concord,” said Stillman.
Where’s the drawing? The fun continues at 5 p.m. with a Silent Auction Benefit at Merlin’s, 50 Beharrell Street – bidding is open throughout the day. Slowpokes and Vincenzo’s will provide hors d’oeuvres, libations by West Concord Liquors, and desserts by Debra’s Natural Gourmet. Merchants are donating items to the auction, but others are urged to donate products and services through the Concord Chamber of Commerce at 978-360-3120. Silent Auction proceeds will also be split among the nonprofits.
“It’s a special village that’s conscious of giving back, said Taylor, whose past involvement in the West Concord Family Festival helped make that a much anticipated local event. “It’s the beginning of a new tradition. “I’m thrilled with it!”