How would you brand the Village of Saugerties? The newfound not-for-profit Saugerties Merchants Association, currently comprised of 35 area business owners, aims to boil down the essence of the community into a cohesive website, brochure and logo. Their tagline: “Destination Saugerties: Make it Happen Here.”
“We want people to think of Saugerties as a destination — a lot of people that I’ve talked to at The Dutch, they have people that come here because they’re passing through, or they’re really just going to Kingston or they’re at a friend’s wedding,” said Dallas Gilpin, owner of The Dutch and Windmill Wine and Spirits and the chair of the new Saugerties Merchants Association, which has organized itself 501(c)(3). “We want people to start thinking of Saugerties as their final destination and not just a place they stumbled upon.”
Membership costs $175 per year, which includes a mention in the group’s literature, space on its website and on materials the group will distribute to travel writers which may take up as a subject the community once dubbed one of the coolest small towns in America. The group debuted the first version of their brochures last week, which are distributed throughout the town. Throughout the summer, the group has coordinated Jazz in the Village events coinciding with sidewalk sales at local businesses — September’s iteration will take place this Saturday, Sept. 14.
Gilpin said the association was born of a communal effort to bring yarn-lovers from the Indie Untangled festival at the Saugerties Performing Arts Center last October into the shopping district to eat and shop. Mary Ebel of The Perfect Blend Yarn and Tea shop, now a board member of the Merchant’s Association, expected an overflow from the knitting event to come into her shop; she contacted other area business owners to brainstorm ways to bring these visitors into other area establishments as well. After orchestrating shuttle buses into the village, hosting an after-party at the Dutch and having local businesses put together gift bags for visitors, the advantage of working cohesively became apparent.
“If we looked down the road at Saugerties in five years, we don’t want to see any empty storefronts,” said Brianne Ebel, director of dales at the Diamond Mills, daughter of Mary Ebel and the new organization’s vice-chair. “We want to see people thriving and happy — a diverse community of families, business options, ages. We want to see people seeking out Saugerties because they think that there’s something there for them, that there’s something there for everyone. A lot of our businesses have closed and commerce specifically in the village has struggled for lack of people.”
Gilpin and the Ebels, along with board members Laura Huron from Bosco’s Mercantile and Robert Langdon from the Emerge Gallery, devised a flurry of marketing images for their logo using an image board on Pinterest. Ultimately, they settled on one that included the red bridge, a small horse, the Saugerties lighthouse, the waterfall and Willie’s love knot.
Local merchants interested in joining the collective can visit www.destinationsaugerties.org for more information.