Westfield, NJ – July 29, 2021 The July 28th misleading article in the New Jersey Globe allows us the perfect opportunity to highlight the creative and innovative initiatives set forth by a completely volunteer board comprised of the key stakeholders to downtown which consists of residents, property owners, business owners, and a council person. At a time when many of the board members were dealing with personal situations such as loss of a job, sickness, struggling businesses and loss of family members due to a global pandemic, they came together to ensure that the downtown had a successful holiday season. This dedicated group of professionals graciously lent their time and expertise to rally around our struggling merchants and restaurants.
The following highlights some of what the board focused our resources on during the 2020 holiday season:
- Provided COVID-19-safe family-friendly events
- Invested in tents, plants, and safety barrier covers to support outdoor dining for our restaurants
- Invested in a website to allow an alternative to Amazon for our small businesses that did not have an online presence
- Engaged Delivery Now to make home deliveries to residents who were not comfortable leaving their homes
- Created a “Shop Local-Love Westfield” campaign that highlighted business owners and encouraged residents to support them
- Ordered logo reusable shopping bags to be given out during the holidays and at future town events to advertise our town
- Opened a visitor center that offered free giftwrap to folks purchasing items downtown
- Hired high school and college students to serve as ambassadors to assist visitors to town by offering them directions and a map of our businesses.
What the Globe article failed to mention is that the shopping bags were just a small part of the DWC holiday effort to drive much needed foot traffic into our downtown businesses. It’s worth noting that our grant application specifically identified that these bags would be purchased, and would be used throughout 2021 if not all were given out in 2020. It’s further worth noting that the State, through the Department of Community Affairs’ Main Street Program, specifically approved of the purchase of these bags.
Unfortunately, the bags did not arrive in time for use during the 2020 holiday season so they were put into our storage area, and we are excited for them to be used during the 2021 holiday season.
As the Chairperson of the Downtown Westfield Corporation and a downtown business owner, I am very proud of our DWC staff as well as the board members and committee members who volunteer their valuable time. We set a framework that exceeded our expectations during a tough holiday season, and we will continue to build upon that this year and beyond.