CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. — A behind-the-scenes initiative taken by residents and merchants to strengthen the local business district has been officially revealed as the Chappaqua-Millwood Chamber of Commerce.
"We’ve had this goal to try and create a chamber, and it’s been a lot of ideas," said Linda Degelsmith, owner of Discover More. "It was kind of like, OK, now we need to form, get together a temporary board of four or five, six, seven people who are invested in the community that can now establish what the community needs."
Degelsmith met with Chappaqua resident Rob Greenstein, Dawn Greenberg of Aurora, Rich Glotzer of Drug Mart, and Tara Mikolay of Desires by Mikolay for the chamber's preliminary board meeting on May 23. The group discussed issues such as an annual membership fee.
"When the merchants are going to give us that check, they are going to write that check knowing they are getting value for that money. That’s the bottom line," Greenstein said. "Whether it’s $100, $125, $150, you’re going to have that much value."
Greenstein said he has identified nearly 300 merchants in New Castle, including storefronts, home businesses, doctor's offices and more. The chamber will create a website to include an online directory of all the businesses.
"The chamber has to operate not just for the benefit of the merchants but for the benefit of the residents," Greenstein said. "We wanted a directory that residents can go to."
The chamber of commerce was not created to compete with the Chappaqua-Millwood Business Association, which is run by Family Britches owner Barry Mishkin, Greenstein said.
"It’s not called the chamber of commerce, it doesn’t act like a chamber of commerce, and if you ask 100 residents in town if they have a chamber of commerce they would say no," Greenstein said. "We’re not looking to replace him. He can do what he’s doing, and we’re going to do what we’re doing."
The chamber will hold its first official meeting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at New Castle Town, where all merchants in the community will be invited to join. After the meeting, Degelsmith said the chamber will begin contacting businesses individually to gauge interest.