DENVILLE, NJ -- Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, economic crisis and social unrest, the businesses in Denville persevere, especially the ones in the downtown area.
Denville resident Gene FitzPatrick, who serves as chair of the Downtown Denville Business Improvement District (BID), a nonprofit organization that strives to support the local businesses around the Broadway area, can attest to this.
“It’s tough,” said FitzPatrick, who had formerly served as a township councilman.
“The businesses are struggling to deal with the ramifications of the pandemic. Our goal as an organization is to keep them going and get them back on their feet by marketing the downtown and continuing to improve Downtown Denville's shopping and business experience.”
FitzPatrick and Downtown Denville BID have big plans for the township community. This includes an event known as Denville After Dark, a small street festival organized to encourage residents and out-of-district visitors to check out the Broadway area. The first one launched on June 26. The second one will occur on July 16, 5-10 p.m., and promises to be even bigger with than the first with more musical entertainment, more outside tables from local restaurants and eateries, among other surprises, shared FitzPatrick.
Downtown Denville BID also hopes to promote its annual Sidewalk Days during the last week of July to entice more people to shop outside at the stores. For the September, the organization plans to bring back Restaurant Week to showcase the area's restaurants and eateries.
“It’s very rewarding,” said FitzPatrick, who along with other Downtown Denville BID board members and volunteers, is happy to be back in action and helping the district.
“Our downtown is one of the most important assets to our town, our home values, and our community. It’s crucial that we do everything we can to sustain it. Small downtown streetscapes and districts have sadly been disappearing with the advent of instant online shopping like Amazon and some of the massive superstores. Perhaps with this global pandemic, there’s a chance to adjust that trend again. It may be the rebirth of the local corner shop again as many big retailers struggle as well. I’m proud of all of our downtown businesses with how innovative they are being to come up with safe and creative ways to market and sell their products, services and experiences.”
When he's not busy with the Downtown BID, FitzPatrick works as an executive vice president, engagement strategy, at a marketing firm that concentrates on healthcare and pharma. He received his bachelor's degree in sociology from the University of Maryland after attending the County College of Morris (CCM) in Randolph. CCM named him Alumni of the Year a few years ago.
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