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Photo by: Rebecca Males - Baldwin Park's First Friday Festival & Art Stroll will be 6-10 p.m. on Friday, July 6.
Winter Park / Maitland Observer Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2012 7 years ago

Baldwin Park Merchants Association brings in business

Boost Baldwin Park business
by: Sarah Wilson Staff Writer

Merchants up and down the Baldwin Park Village Center have harnessed their powers to form an organization more powerful than each of them alone, and through it they’ve found there truly is strength in numbers.

From partnering together and supporting each other, to planning two monthly community events with more in the works, it’s been a busy couple of months for members of the Baldwin Park Merchants Association (BPMA) since the organization started in May.

“We want to bring all merchants on main street, and in other areas of the community, all together as one,” said Tom Murphy, owner of Paddy Murphy’s and president of BPMA. “We’re not trying to market one business or another… we’re trying to market Baldwin Park as a whole.”

The Merchants Association came together earlier this year to form a net of security and support for local businesses. A tough market combined with the changing ownership of the Village area retail property, Murphy said, made local business owners look to each other for support to help all of them stay afloat.

The result is an organization that not only cross-promotes among its members but is working to promote Baldwin Park business across the community and beyond. Murphy said they’re working to do this through collaborative events such as First Fridays and Movies in the Park, and extended marketing pushes for association members.

“What we’re trying to do is have it so that all residents from Baldwin Park, and even those from Winter Park, come out and know what we have to offer here,” Murphy said. “Because we have a little of everything. We want people to experience all our different places.”

Collaborative commerce

CaddyShanks owner and vice president of BPMA Chris Poulos says he didn’t come into the association because his individual business was struggling – it’s actually expanding – but because he saw a need to protect the betterment of the Baldwin Park businesses around him.

“We want people to constantly have things to do down here so that they keep coming back,” Poulos said. “More people bring about more business.”

So when the Merchants Association formed, he decided to lend the group CaddyShanks’ monthly First Friday event to give it the opportunity to expand and involve more businesses and attract more people to the area.

The BPMA-sponsored First Friday Charity Festival & Art Stroll has been going strong since June, bringing an evening of food, drink, art and fun to the streets of Baldwin Park all for a good cause. Murphy says at each event the numbers of vendors involved has grown, with more than 50 signing up in July.

“We’ve seen a lot of progress in a very short amount of time,” Murphy said. The best part of this progress, in addition to added attention to local businesses, is the added amount the businesses can give back to the different local charity chosen for each month’s event.

The next First Friday Festival will be held Friday, Sept. 7.

Another sign of progress is the adding of more events. June signaled the start of the Association’s Movie Night in the Park on the third Friday of every month, and while that event was rained out, the planning goes on. On Aug. 17, “Cars” is set to show on the Village Center Green.

“We’re trying to do it so that every weekend, there’s something going on in Baldwin Park,” Murphy said.

Future after foreclosure

McKinley Properties was court-appointed to operate the retail-area storefronts after the property entered foreclosure in March. Property Manager Jason Schaller says his company has had two main goals: rebuild and progress.

And, he says, the Baldwin Park Merchants Association is helping the Village Center area do both.

“Everyone is working in a mutual interest for local business …. It’s great to see the merchants really unite as one,” Schaller said.

By drawing crowds and attention from throughout the Greater Orlando area to Baldwin Park, the exposure helps increase the interest he sees in those wanting to fill the area’s empty storefronts.

“It takes a community to really make something happen,” Schaller said. “And by these business owners putting their heads together and coming up with all these things, they’re all working together for the betterment of the community.”

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