Retail and service businesses are thriving in Haddonfield’s downtown. The area is home to over 200 distinctive businesses, shops and restaurants. From apparel boutiques, art galleries and shoe stores to jewelers, hair stylists and bridal shops—Haddonfield has it all.
By Letitia G. Colombi
Mayor, Haddonfield Borough
Haddonfield’s shopping and downtown district has been named ‘Best of Philly for Main Street Shopping’ by Philadelphia Magazine; ‘Top Town in South Jersey’ by South Jersey Magazine; and ‘Best Downtown Shopping Center ’ by The Courier-Post.
But keeping the downtown vibrant doesn’t just happen. It requires the cooperation of government, businesses and a unique Business Improvement District.
It certainly helps that our shops are nestled into well-preserved colonial buildings and offer beautifully-displayed merchandise and great customer service. Walking into one of Haddonfield’s shops is like walking into someone’s home. This quality sets our downtown area apart from the malls and other downtown destinations.
Girls’ Night Out!, once an annual event, has become so popular that we now hold the event three times a year – in March, June and October. Girls’ Night Out! kicks off each fashion season
To help attract even more visitors, the downtown hosts numerous festivals and events throughout the year. In addition to town-wide sidewalk sales in the summer and a Fall Festival in October along Kings Highway, we host the popular Haddonfield Crafts & Fine Art Festival. Other events include Girls’ Night Out!, First Fridays, Holiday Candlelight Shopping and the new Valentine’s Day promotion “Love is in the Air.”
BID Management Many of these events are made possible through the efforts of The Partnership for Haddonfield (PfH). PfH, the management corporation for Haddonfield's Business Improvement District (BID), works to enhance the commercial viability and attractiveness of the Haddonfield business district, while promoting growth and employment within the borough. The Partnership also strives to promote self-help and self-financing programs for Haddonfield’s businesses.
Started in 2004, when the ordinance creating the Haddonfield BID was adopted, the Partnership’s mission is to provide leadership and to help create and promote a unique mix of businesses. PfH also offers grants to attract distinctive retailers in targeted categories and fine-dining restaurants. The final component of its mission is to sponsor business networking events and actively market the downtown.
Business Recruitment Efforts The Partnership’s Retail Recruiter, Remi Fortunato, works to recruit businesses in targeted categories, such as apparel, accessories, home furnishings, bath and body, as well as restaurants and cafes.
To help attract even more visitors, the downtown hosts numerous festivals and events throughout the year, including the popular Haddonfield Crafts & Fine Art Festival.
The PfH looks for unique, independent businesses rather than national retailers. These types of businesses are what differentiate Haddonfield from the retail areas available at the malls and lifestyle centers throughout South Jersey. The goal of the retail recruitment program is to create a compelling mix of businesses to attract shoppers not only from Haddonfield but from throughout the Delaware Valley. To identify prospective tenants, Fortunato travels to retail towns within 100 miles of Haddonfield and seeks best-in-class retailers who may be looking to expand to a South Jersey location.
And, under the PfH Retention/Recruitment Program, Haddonfield retailers, restaurants and service businesses may apply for and receive grants to enhance building exteriors, window and/or merchandising displays, and for certain interior enhancements. Funding is also available under this program to cover a portion of the costs for current Haddonfield retailers who are re-locating or expanding their businesses in Haddonfield.
Coordinated Marketing PfH also uses a variety of marketing strategies, including two websites, to promote the downtown. These sites (www.shophaddonfieldnj.com and www.HaddonfieldProfessionals.org) are updated regularly and enable individual businesses to promote themselves through free links to their websites and e-mail addresses. In addition, the PfH sends out information via e-mail to more than 8,000 shoppers throughout the Delaware Valley, at least once a month.
By advertising in the local press and in regional magazines--including Philadelphia Magazine, South Jersey and SJ Magazine, the Voice, the Jewish Exponent, Travelhost and The Courier-Post—our BID leverages ad dollars spent by individual businesses. The advertising effort also includes radio and cable television buys.
The Partnership’s public relations effort has been ongoing and tenacious. The downtown’s events, awards, new business openings, trends and information have been featured in the local and regional media. By sponsoring regular tours for the Philadelphia Concierge Association, Haddonfield has become an even more popular destination.
All of our events and promotions are designed to provide the type of exposure that will bring people in to Haddonfield to shop. A great deal of planning and effort goes into special events such as Candlelight Shopping and Girls’ Night Out!, which are the most popular.
The holiday season is truly special in Haddonfield. Candlelight Shopping features streets lined with luminaries; exciting in-store holiday events; horse-drawn carriage rides, live entertainment and visits from Santa Claus. Throughout December, downtown Haddonfield glows with white lights hung in nearly every tree.
Another PfH promotional effort is the Gift Certificate Program. The Partnership invests thousands of dollars to supplement town-wide gift certificates at various times during the year. The 10 percent discount on gift certificates that is paid for through Partnership funds goes directly to the merchants. Sales of gift certificates in 2012 increased 40 percent over 2011, to the highest level ever.
PFH also works to bring in visitors by increasing the number and size of our events. For example, Girls’ Night Out!, once an annual event, has become so popular that we now hold the event three times a year—in March, June and October. Girls’ Night Out! kicks off each fashion season.
Our shops and boutiques offer in-store events, discounts and other special promotions. Participating stores offer 20 percent discounts on either select merchandise or their entire store. The PfH works with each store to encourage participation and to promote the list of special offerings, through press releases and advertising. The PfH also sponsors a town-wide gift certificate giveaway drawing for those who pre-register on-line. Pre-registrants are added to a mailing list for future event notifications.
Haddonfield Information Center The center provides information for visitors and residents alike. One can view a listing of downtown stores and professional offices, restaurant menus, a calendar of Haddonfield events, as well as a borough map, and information on the town’s organizations, schools, churches and their current activities.
Whether you're interested in volunteering for one of our town’s service organizations, need a voter registration form, a registration application for your pet, or another recycling bucket, the Information Center staff can help.
Measure Results Our efforts to promote Haddonfield and retain businesses have paid off with an occupancy rate of over 90 percent, the highest of any downtown or shopping district in the Delaware Valley. In 2012, more than 100 businesses celebrated 15 or more years in Haddonfield, and several relocated their businesses within the town to larger locations or expanded their existing locations.
There’s no limit to the ways an effective management organization, local businesses and government can work together to build a prosperous downtown. With more than 200 businesses calling downtown Haddonfield home, the additions and upgrades continue each year. s
To learn more about our efforts or to plan a visit, go to www.shophaddonfieldnj.com or www.haddonfieldnj.org/downtown.
First Published in New Jersey
Municipalities, Volume 90, Number 3, March 2013