By Carly Meyer
The Princeton Merchants Association works tirelessly behind the scenes to nurture and enhance a vibrant and sustainable economy in our hometown. Our members take great pride in enriching the experience and preserve the culture people expect when they live, work or play in Princeton.
Who is the PMA? We are the responders. Whenever an opportunity for enrichment arises, the PMA is ready to act as a pivot point and central collaborator for the many organizations and interests in town. When there is a municipal opportunity, Mayor Lempert calls us to assist in navigating a resolution. If the university becomes aware of a new concern, a chance to improve or a community affair, they contact us to work in conjunction.
With pride, we are excited to sponsor Communiversity. As most Princetonians know, Communiversity is one of Princeton’s signature annual events, attracting as many as 40,000 people to downtown Princeton. Get ready, because Sunday, April 27 from 1 to 6 p.m. promises to be another great experience. For your enjoyment, the businesses and restaurants in Princeton are working feverishly to plan a memorable time.
Prior to last year, the event usually took place on a Saturday. But two years ago, the Princeton Merchants Association met with the Arts Council of Princeton, Princeton University, Princeton Borough and area clergy to discuss making a Sunday switch. Last year’s Communiversity was held on a Sunday, and the decision proved to be a good one.
Why Sunday? Well, the proposed change made sense for a number of reasons. Primarily, Princeton already attracts large numbers of visitors on Saturdays, while Sundays see fewer tourists and shoppers on average. The thought was that a Sunday event would encourage shoppers downtown on a day they otherwise would not have come, and that’s good for our hometown economy.
In addition, Princeton hosts many places of worship that hold services on Sundays. An afternoon at Communiversity seemed to be a lovely way to follow up a morning at church with lunch or brunch at one of our many fine restaurants.
All the groups mentioned above came together and worked collaboratively to determine that the Sunday move would be mutually beneficial. Everyone had a voice, and all were heard. Now when people think of Communiversity, they’ll be thinking Sunday. It’s a new tradition. Hopefully, we’ll have great weather that whole weekend, and everyone will enjoy more than one day of fun, music, art and shopping.
The PMA is an advocate for the community on issues such as these. Do you recall the “Jughandle Test” in 2012? The Department of Transportation trialed the closing of the jug handles on U.S. 1. They wanted to see if they could reduce congestion on the major highway by preventing left turns from northbound traffic.
It was a good goal, but the trial negatively affected traffic flow in Princeton. It wasn’t long before the PMA board got together and said, “We’ve got to figure this out.”
So we met with DOT commissioner James Simpson to explain to him how the tests on Route 1 were affecting business and commerce in town. Again, multiple stakeholders were involved, the university and the hospital among them. The way we saw it, Princeton’s very economy, as well as customer experience, was at risk.
Commissioner Simpson was very gracious in understanding our concerns. He advised that the test needed to take place, but acknowledged our concerns and understood borough business was suffering collateral damage. Not long after our conversation, DOT restored the jughandles and canceled the trial. Business as usual was restored.
The PMA has constituents — our more than 90 members — and we work on their behalf. But on issues like these, which affect the whole community, we are working on behalf of all Princetonians. To preserve Princeton as the great place that it is, everyone from the residents to the students to the shops and restaurants must thrive.
When tens of thousands descend on Princeton April 27 for Communiversity, we’ll all see that synergy in action.
Carly Meyer is president of the Princeton Merchants Association. The Hometown Princeton column is provided monthly by the PMA. On the Web: princetonmerchants.org.