Discussions by Domain: Hightstown’s Community Success
“We try our best to give small businesses the tools they can use to help market themselves.”
Lawrence D. Quattrone is the Mayor of Hightstown Borough, New Jersey. Cristina Fowler is the Marketing Communication Manager at Keep Middlesex Moving and Vice President of the Downtown Hightstown Board of Directors. Charles Stults is Partner at OGP Architects, LLP and Hightstown Borough Councilman. They discuss how Hightstown supports its local businesses and how the community has thrived.
Cristina: “Downtown Hightstown began in 2008 and it is all volunteer run. It’s comprised of business owners, stakeholders, and local residents. We have a board of directors, there’s six of us in total.”
Cristina: “The mission of the group is to really showcase the unique businesses that we have downtown. Not only the diversity, but how they all lend to that small hometown feeling. Most of the businesses in town are either run or owned by a Hightstown resident or locally. Each of the shops offers something special.”
Cristina: “This was really to truly get every single business together once a month and really share what’s going on in their business, their sales, their specials, and helping each other.”
Cristina: “We try our best to give the small businesses the tools they can use to help market themselves without spending thousands and thousands of dollars. When you’re all in it together, everyone cross shares and cross markets and it’s incredible how far your reach can be if we all lend a hand. So that’s how the group has pretty much evolved.”
Mayor Quattrone: “It’s bringing the people together. When you get the two businesses together, you get those people together and it encourages more business. It encourages a mending, sort of a knitting together.”
Charles: “The retail world is changing and has been for a long time. The small business world is changing with online retailing. Knowing that the town has an organization that thinks of itself as a whole, really helps make a decision to invest heavily into the town.”
Charles: “When there’s a gap or a vacancy that arises in the downtown, knowing that there’s a support group already in place helps people make the decision to come to Hightstown versus another town. They all know what their goal is for that empty store at the end of the aisle or the walkway. Hightstown now has that in its grasp. The compatibility between the businesses in downtown Hightstown as a group has really fueled that.”
Cristina: “Downtown Hightstown has a handful of events, but I really have to give credit to all of the committees, the boards, and the commissions in town because they really do the brunt of the work. What we do at some of our meetings is we get together with those leaders of those groups and put together like a master calendar.”
Cristina: “The harvest fair committee puts together their harvest fair once a year. It’s the town favorite event. So the businesses knowing all the events that are occurring in the calendar year, they’re able to plan their specials and their sales around it. In addition to that, we have run a couple of programs ourselves, the actual board.”
Cristina: “Another thing that we did just this year is the Window Decorating Contest. We worked with the high school art students and we selected 12 businesses who offered their storefront windows as a canvas. With some guidance from the businesses, the students painted on their windows holiday scenes. Some of them are just phenomenal. Now we’re having a contest where we encourage everyone to come downtown, look at the windows, and then go back online and vote. It’s cyclical.”
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