By Steve Sears
When owning a local business, you need a chain of support and comradery to lift you up in the challenging times, celebrate the great times, and a reach out into your community.
Meet LittleFallsBiz, folks who do exactly that in the Little Falls, New Jersey area.
“LittleFallsBiz was founded more than 6 years ago,” says Karen Winick, owner of Pencilworks Studio at 96 Main Street, and President of LittleFallsBiz. “Several of the businesses found the need to get together and learn more about each other. They also wanted to meet the residents, encourage them to shop local and to find ways to give back to the town. We found that networking with each other and developing new ideas gave us a sense of community. LittleFallsBiz held open meetings so that owners could meet each other, hear about our vision and we also held seminars on social media, marketing, etc. to encourage participation.”
“As the years have gone by, we have grown strong and developed a great relationship with each other, the town, and its residents”.
LittleFallsBiz is currently comprised of 35 “strong” businesses, a nice combination of dining, retail, professional services providers, and specialty shops well worth meeting and knowing. An invitation is open for those who are considering joining or just discovering the group for the first time. “Being a member of LittleFallsBiz is a win-win for any business in town,” attests Winick. “We currently have 6 strong community events that we sponsor, with two new ones this year. We also work closely with the Mayor and Town Council which enables us to address any issues that may come up. We have very affordable yearly dues and businesses will get more than their money’s worth if they take advantage of all of the opportunities that we offer.” Businesses outside or toeing the Little Falls boundary line will also be considered for membership. “LittleFallsBiz is a growing organization. We pride ourselves on giving back to the community, working with the town government on issues that affect the businesses and we are always available to help a business in need or to welcome a new business to town. I hope that more businesses will consider joining this year.”
More information about LittleFallsBiz, including a list of member businesses and events, may be found at www.littlefallsbiz.org. In addition to Winick, current officers are Vice President Rhonda Mallek, owner of The Fine Grind Coffee Ba, and Stacy Malmborg, owner of Just Imagine Academy, who is the Secretary.
In addition to presiding over their businesses and aiding fellow business owners, LittleFallsBiz businesses give back to the community in a big way. As Winick previously mentioned, the group sponsors many events in town during the year. In 2019 LittleFallsBiz will host the 4th Annual Family Fun Night at the Little Falls Library on March 15th, the 3rd Annual Block Party on June 13th, the 7th Annual Fall Festival on September 22nd, the 4th Annual Breakfast with Santa on December 7th, and the 3rd Annual Holiday on Main the weekend of December 6th. “Many businesses also attend the Little Falls Easter Egg Hunt and Halloween Bash where they hand out goodies to the kids,” adds Winick. “ Also, in 2019, LittleFallsBiz will be co-hosting a “Little Falls Green” event with the town on March 30th at the Civic Center, the event featuring information about recycling, gardening, environmentally-friendly products and crafts for kids, and will also be hosting a Health Fair in October. The latter date is to be determined.
LittleFallsBiz, which is constantly adding new events for the community, does not make a profit on any of these events and many of them are made possible through sponsorships and donations. “As you can see from the number of events that we sponsor,” says Winick, “we give the residents lots of opportunities to get to know each other and meet the business owners in town.” In regard to the “get to know each other” statement, LittleFallsBiz offers a new “Welcome to the Neighborhood” coupon program which is currently being mailed to new residents in town. “We hope,” says Winick, “that with this coupon book, new residents will come to town and solicit the businesses and get to know us. They will also be saving money through the coupons that the businesses are offering.”
As a benefit to LittleFallsBiz members, many of the above events offer advertising opportunities for the businesses at a very low price. Also, members and not charged for tables events, and they also have access to the “Shop Little Falls” Facebook page which has over 1,000 followers. “We also have quarterly networking meetings, where the business owners can exchange ideas and address any town issues,” says Winick. “For the businesses, we will also be focusing on more networking events so that business owners can meet each other. These have proven to be great ‘get togethers’ and many wonderful ideas have come out of them.”
Little Falls has a great Main Street area. Besides location, Winick was asked what makes the area a great place to own a business and shop. “Many businesses in town have been here for many, many years. Little Falls is a wonderful small community. Over the years we have seen it grow with many new businesses, restaurants and new buildings. I think that residents have gotten to know many of the business owners since we have had so much visibility. In the years ahead, I think that Little Falls will be looked at as one of the best places to live in the state with great schools and thriving businesses. The business community is supported by the Mayor and the council and I think that has brought everyone together. All in all, it is a wonderful town to be a part of.”