Business & Finance

Madison Chamber Members Tour New Businesses in Retail Round Robin

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Kathy and Steve Bridge with their daughter, Abby, in their store, Bridge Kitchenware. Credits: Patricia Harris
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Sisters Jacquie Dinsmore, left, and Trish Wilson run birthday parties in The Studio, next door to their other business, Doodlebugz. Credits: Patricia Harris
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Reilly Urban joins her mother in the newly remodeled San Francisco Mercantile, a women’s clothing store. Credits: Patricia Harris
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Dave Drovandi, left, and Tom Heller, co-owners of DownTown Salon in Madison show off their space. Credits: Patricia Harris
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MADISON, NJ - Madison business people had an opportunity to visit some of the new businesses in their community Tuesday evening.

They were participating in a “Retail Round Robin,” a monthly event sponsored by the Madison Chamber of Commerce. The evening event is designed to allow business owners and employees to learn about others in the borough.

“So many shop owners stay in their own places during the day,” explained local businessman Brad Cramer, who started the program. “This is a way they can educate themselves. They can walk around and see what others have to offer.”

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Cramer owns Cramers Carpet One Floor & Home in the borough.

A group of about 15 Chamber members spent a few hours visiting four local businesses: DownTown Salon, Bridge Kitchenware, Doodlebugz/The Studio and San Francisco Mercantile. At each stop the storeowners offered refreshments and talked about their products and philosophy.

At DownTown Salon, one of the co-owners, Tom Heller, described the business as a unisex salon offering full hair services at a reasonable price. The owners remodeled an existing shop about a year ago to make it appealing for children and men as well women, he said.

His business partner, Dave Drovandi, is his brother-in-law, and many members of their families work there.

“It’s our family serving your family,” Heller said.

At Bridge Kitchenware, owners Steven and Kathy Bridge showed off three rooms of kitchen supplies and cooking equipment for the home chef.

Steven Bridge explained that his father had started the business in New York City more than 60 years ago. Bridge said he recently relocated to Madison for his family’s sake and opened his shop on a side alley.

“When I looked at this space, I was told ‘people will find you,’” he said. “People find us.”

He said he is committed to offering the best quality products at a discount and that he shops all over the world.

The sisters who own Doodlebugz/The Studio, Jacquie Dinsmore and Trish Wilson, showed their space, which has two separate entrances. One side houses retail gift items for children and teens and a walk-in crafts studio. The other space is dedicated to party rooms where the owners organize and host birthday parties for children.

A former executive recruiter, Dinsmore said her original business plan was to create a design studio for children where they could make beaded jewelry, but that morphed into a personalized gift section and then into the party business, which she said has taken off. Her sister, a former attorney, joined her in the business.

“We knew we could it,” Dinsmore said, noting the business draws customers from 15 towns in a 25-mile radius of Madison.

“It’s a lot of work, but it’s a lot of fun,” she added.

Reilly Urban, a co-owner of San Francisco Mercantile, said she is joining her mother, Bea Henderson, in the women’s clothing store that has been in Madison since 1979. Urban moved from the real San Francisco to help remodel the space and rebrand the store.

“I feel really blessed to be part of the community,” Urban said, noting she is the third generation of merchants in her family.

The store is filling up with spring merchandise that reflects the owners’ desire to keep the prices for clothing, jewelry and accessories at an affordable price.

“We’re trying to honor our history and stay small but bring in modern conveniences,” Urban said.

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