Beacon's Chamber of Commerce was founded over two decades ago as a Business Association, started by pioneers of the business scene in Beacon. Though some Beacon business sectors are booming these days, "booming" wasn't a word attached to Beacon's Chamber of Commerce. For a long time, it seemed to be standing tenuously on sea legs as it sought footing in a rapidly changing city, with similarly quick developments in the business community. Though it became known for organizing large events such as the Annual Car Show with the Dutchess Cruisers, most people in the city weren't familiar with who ran Beacon's Chamber of Commerce - until now.
Burdened with the usual stresses of running an organization and learning everything on the fly, the Chamber's Board lacked the skill set to easily update their website or maximize new social media tools that can quickly inform people - a reality of operating small businesses when regular people who are great in one field suddenly have to master many components of other fields, including marketing, system implementation, and technical skills to run a website. I've seen this firsthand in my own business, Tin Shingle, a training platform built for business owners to educate them on the best ways to use social media, send newsletters, and get press.
New Website For Beacon's Chamber of Commerce
This year, the Chamber undertook a completely new website design build. For the first time, the site includes a highly anticipated Member Business Directory, event listings, schedule of ribbon cuttings, the ability to join online, as well as a contact form to let the Chamber know if you want to speak at an event or host a meeting. Speaking of meetings, monthly Member Meetings are now held on the first Monday of the month, with BASH's available to the public. March's Member Meeting is happening at Drink More Good. Previous meetings during this new era have been at A Little Beacon Space (our space!) and the Elks Club. At the gatherings, Board Members discuss ways to develop business skills, including recently committing to learn social media practices during the meetings.
New and Adapted Businesses In Beacon
The business pioneers - among them, restaurants, renovation artisans, stationery stores, candlemaking shops and service businesses of many kinds - didn't come in simply a single wave. The types of business setting up shop in Beacon continue to change and evolve with the needs of the community. Many restaurants, for instance, have come and gone. What is now The Pandorica, for instance, completely flipped who it catered to in order to stay in business. Originally opening as a tea room with a varied menu that included latkes and applesauce (yum), diners started dwindling. One night, owner Shirley Holt was binge-watching Dr. Who, and had an epiphany. She may have wanted to run a tea room, but Beacon wasn't showing an interest. "Just because I wanted to run a tea room, didn't mean that people wanted to come." The idea to have a themed restaurant hit her, and the next day she rebranded the entire restaurant as an homage to Dr. Who.
If you've been following the news since the change, you know what a hit that choice has been. She has earned praise from Perez Hilton, The Nerdist, BBC America, Grub Street, and more. One could even credit her choice with drawing people to Beacon specifically to dine at The Pandorica. A recent visitor included an 11-year-old boy from Florida who is in remission from Burkitt lymphoma B-cell leukemia. He made a wish with the Make-A-Wish Foundation: to experience scenes from Dr. Who - specifically at The Pandorica.
Same Big Visions
Beacon's Chamber of Commerce is a volunteer organization comprising business owners who have big visions, as well as the desire to bring people together. For years, they'd hold member meetings and the same handful of people would come, until eventually petering out. Several notable Beaconites, including Ray Rabenda (owner of Sukhothai Restaurant) and Miss Vickie, have been on the Chamber's Board. Current Board member Carl Oken, who is currently the District Deputy Grand Exalted Ruler of the Mid Hudson Elks Club in Beacon is in his second year as Vice President of the Beacon Chamber. He credits Clara Lou Gould, former mayor of Beacon, for why he joined the board and continues on. "Mayor Gould inspired me to help Beacon to continue to grow. This revitalization started with Clara Lou's vision," says Carl.
Chamber President Rick Brownell, owner of Freedom Ford, shares the sentiment: "It has been an honor to serve the Beacon business community at my capacity. Being President has been so rewarding. I have been able to meet so many of Beacon's business owners and have made a lot of new friends. Beacon is on quite a ride now - potential business owners should consider Beacon for their storefront. The Beacon Chamber will be right there to support their efforts."
New Board Members
During the first meeting of 2017, two new board members were elected to serve. Each of them runs a new business in Beacon. Michele Williams, owner of Style Storehouse and a Poughkeepsie resident, came forward to join the Board and had this to say: "I look forward to meeting more business owners, and representing the growing number of businesses on Beacon's East End of town."
Kate Rabe is an expert in the field of human relations and business growth, consulting with mid-sized businesses for their HR needs. She says, "As a lifelong Beacon resident, I have always had an interest in our city. I feel that we are very lucky to have a Beacon Chamber and that there are so many opportunities for development and growth within the community. I feel fortunate that I am able to sit on the Board of Directors and have a part in everything to come. There really are such great ideas that I cannot wait to see materialize and help continue to grow the Beacon community."
In addition to the Annual Car Show that has become a defining October event in Beacon, the Chamber of Commerce has agreed to work with the city to host the Cupcake Festival on May 6, 2017. Normally held in Fishkill, this year the festival will take over Main Street from the dummy light to Route 52/Fishkill Ave./Teller Ave. The festival's presence on the East End is part of a concerted effort to bring more activity to that end of town, which has a vibrant business scene as you pass the Yankee Clipper diner. The Cupcake Festival is currently seeking vendors, and is offering a discount to Beacon-based businesses. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Editorial Note: A Little Beacon Blog's sister company, InHouse Design Media, agreed to redesign the Chamber's website pro-bono, and train the Board in new promotional practices. Working with them has been a pleasure and we wish them and our fellow Beacon businesses great success!