Business community year in review 2017
WARWICK — Once again there were far more entrepreneurs throughout the Town of Warwick who decided to take a risk and expand or open new businesses in 2017 than those who closed their doors.
The Warwick business community saw a large number of new openings and like most other years, moves, expansions, anniversaries, good news, sad news and bad news.
• In January, the Merchant Guild, for example, discovered that some counterfeit gift certificates had been circulating in the village requiring the certificates to be redesigned to prevent fraud.
• Several businesses were closed for several months as a result of a fire at 22 Railroad Ave. on April 12.
• The popular Dautaj Restaurant closed with little notice at the end of January but soon reopened under new management as The Warwick Inn.
• A landmark store, The Inkwell, closed its doors forever in February.
• Michael Johndrow, executive director of the Warwick Valley Chamber of Commerce for the past 10 years, reported attending 52 ribbon-cuttings.
Milestones• Major anniversaries and ribbon cuttings included Stage and Nathans Law Firm, which traced it origins back to 1897. And Key Bank had its 50th anniversary.
• Riehle Opticians's and Peck's Wines and Spirits both celebrated 30 years in business.
• The Chosun Taekwondo Academy & Hath Yoga Center as well as Jean Claude's Artisan Bakery & Dessert Café celebrated their 20th anniversaries.
• And El Azteca Restaurant celebrated its 10th.
But not all ribbon cutting ceremonies involved grand openings of new businesses or anniversaries.
• Warwick ShopRite, for example celebrated the addition of an 11,825-square-foot extension to the north side of its facility.
• After a year of planning and six months of construction, Leo Kaytes Ford, completed its total renovation project. .
And Christ Church, at 50 South St., completed phase one of an expansive renovation project for which the church raised over $900,000.
"It was a great year," said Johndrow, "and we anticipate that 2018 will be even better. We're promoting shop local and it would seem that we have managed to emphasize, in a very strategic way, just how much people value their experiences with consistently good service and quality products. We also continue to promote tourism."
Business and community serviceIt was also another year when local restaurants and musicians supported the fifth annual Mardi Gras fund raiser, which raised over $10,000 for Backpack Snack Attack.
And later in the year, the Warwick Town Board proclaimed the month of August "Backpack Snack Attack Back to School Month."
As a result of extraordinary business support that month, the non-profit organization, which provides nutritional snacks to almost 300 needy school children each week of the school year, raised a record $16,421.
Membership on the riseThe Warwick Valley Chamber of Commerce and its Merchant Guild were especially active in 2017.
In addition to signing up 78 new members, a 17 per cent increase over the previous year that brought its total membership to 524 members, the chamber continued sponsoring business mixers, networking and educational events, the Tourism Initiative, Operation Clean Sweep, the Warwick Valley Farmers Market, the annual Tourist Guide, Community Showcase, the 23rd Taste of Warwick, Applefest and the presentation of awards to businesses and business leaders at its 78th annual membership celebration.
In 2018, by the way, the Community Showcase was moved from the Warwick Valley Middle School to downtown Warwick where it had its strongest attendance.
The chamber reported that both vendors and merchants were happy with the results. .
Last year participating merchants and organizations continued traditional celebrations of the Sidewalk Sale, Ladies Night Out, Queen for a Day, Concerts at Railroad Green, Free Music in the Courtyard and Home for the Holidays.
Many of these special celebrations are the result of hard work by a select group of shop owners and participating members of The Warwick Merchant Guild, a committee of the Warwick Valley Chamber of Commerce.
On a sad note, the Warwick community lost one of its most treasured citizens in January when businesswoman Debbie Iurato, an active and influential member of the Merchant Guild and co-chair of Home for the Holidays, passed away.
She had co-owned Peck's Wines & Spirits with her husband, Bill, and was well known for her numerous contributions to the community.
We know. We haven't mentioned everything but let's not forget the visits by Santa, the free horse and wagon rides and Apple Eve.
Happy New Year!
- Roger Gavan
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