Lexington, KY – This season marks what some Chevy Chase merchants hope to be the beginning of a new era for neighborhood businesses. The newly reformed Chevy Chase Business Owners association (CCBO) held its first official meeting at Buddy’s Bar and Grill in late October, following a successful summer block party in August which was intended to gauge interest among local businesses.
“The street fair this summer was the best one we ever had,” said CCBO secretary Bill Farmer, who has lived and worked in the neighborhood his entire life.
The association originated decades ago, but officially dissolved sometime in the ’80s, according to Farmer, whose family has owned and operated the Euclid Avenue shop Farmer’s Jewelry since 1960. The district has changed significantly since then, he added – specifically in that it has expanded from a primarily retail district to a district that specializes in retail and entertainment.
“There are fewer beauty shops; there are fewer ladies dress shops,” Farmer said. “There are a lot of younger entrepreneurs, newer entrepreneurs in Chevy Chase.
“It comes down to having an association that works for both daytime and nighttime merchants.”
The group seeks not only to give a voice to business owners in regard to any future redesign projects or area safety concerns, but also to officially represent and promote member businesses, with efforts such as the block party and the current window decorating contest geared to increase interest and involvement among area residents, shoppers and retailers alike.
“When I moved in here, I knew it was going to take a little bit to promote my business,” said association president Danielle Montague, whose Euclid Avenue specialty tea shop, MonTea, celebrated its one-year anniversary in November. “I felt like it would be better for all of us to work together to promote ourselves rather than everyone struggling individually.”
In addition to Montague and Farmer, the group is officially represented by vice president Kevin Heathcoat (Bourbon ‘N Toulouse); treasurer Kevin Howard (Fifth Third Bank on Euclid); and board members Howie Rackmil (Worlds Apart) and Chuck Creacy (Smiley Pete Publishing – this magazine’s parent company).
The association officially encompasses the district stretching down Euclid Avenue from Oldham to High Street, and down High Street from Sunset to Ashland.
From The Dish to Happy Place, Bourbon ‘N Toulouse to The Beer Trappe, a number of new businesses started by and geared toward a younger audience have sprung up in the neighborhood over the past decade, while staples such as Best of Flowers, Chevy Chase Hardware and Chevy Chase Inn have maintained their stake as well.
“People can now do things here from 9:00 in the morning until 1:00 in the morning if they want to,” Farmer said. “And they can walk down and do it, or bike down and do it, or pull up and park and do it.”
Farmer likens the new life in this business corridor of Chevy Chase to the resurgence on west Lexington’s Jefferson Street, which has seen a wash of new and popular restaurants, cafes and nightlife destinations in the past few years.
“You see a lot of resurgence in locality, stressing the local in locality,” he said. “Chevy Chase is a prime target for that, and has always been a prime target.”
“We’re just trying to have a voice for ourselves – a sort of voice for the consciousness,” he added. “It’s so much easier when you know your neighbor.”
The Chevy Chase Business Owners association is open to the public, not just business owners, with annual dues of $100 going toward a website, which is set to launch soon, as well as various promotional efforts. The group will meet quarterly, with the next meeting set for Jan. 10. Topics addressed at the January meeting will include the formation of a marketing committee and increased patronage for the 2011 winter and spring season. For more information on joining, contact Danielle Montague at Danielle@monteashop.com or (859) 268-8327.
CHEVY CHASE WINDOW DECORATING CONTEST AND OPEN HOUSE
Hoping to capture a bit of the the New York City spirit of holiday window decorations, the CCBO has organized a friendly window decorating competition for local businesses, in hopes of building relationships within the individual businesses as well as with other association members and the community.
Three judges will chose a winner on Dec. 3, and a “Holiday Hop” will also occur from 5 – 8 p.m., during which time many of the local businesses participating in the contest will host open houses open to the public.