The Downtown Merchant’s Association was founded by Norman Fox of N. Fox Jewelers in the early 1960's. This was in response to a proposal that Rt. 50 arterial be routed around downtown Saratoga Springs. The downtown merchants united to fight this proposal and, as you can see today, were successful. With the fight over, the Downtown Merchants Association began to wane.
In 1977, when the DBA began to come alive again, membership was about 25 businesses; dues were $35 each to cover the cost of the newsletter. In 1985, a young and enthusiastic shop owner, Terri-Lynn Pellegri, whose store was called Bedazzel, asked Joe Dalton, President of the Chamber of Commerce, to help her breathe new life into the organization which was faltering again. Too few shop owners were doing too much of the work, as is the case in so many all-volunteer organizations. People were burning out.
There was a brainstorming session hosted by Joe that fall at the Chamber. Any and all interested businesses were invited to come and prioritize promotional events and rank their most important seasons. It was also decided, upon Joe’s advice, to enlist the help of Susan Farnsworth in January of 1986. Susan had an advertising background, was a media consultant and was formerly the Promotion Director at the Saratogian, and she has acted as an independent contractor to facilitate most everything for the DBA to this day.
At this time, there were about 40 members and the budget was about $1000. We now have over 200 members and the yearly budget has grown to approximately $70,000+. Yearly dues are $260, the newsletter is e-mailed electronically to over 250 people.
A board of directors was formed to make most of the hard decisions, which were then presented to the general membership at the monthly general meetings.
Over and above all the wonderfully creative ideas that have been generated by this amazing group of involved, supportive business people is the fact that this is a true “member supported” organization.
Yearly dues facilitate the map, the gift card program and promotions, but it is the people who care enough to keep this organization going that deserve the credit. The Fall Festival and Victorian Streetwalk are the biggest events. Each president has had a chance to add another spark to the success of downtown Saratoga Springs and to make their mark in our history. DBA committee volunteers make everything happen.
As we grow and evolve from a group of 25 business people planning monthly promotions to a 200+ member organization that is literally paving the way for Saratoga Springs and its future, we have different challenges to face, new, fresh faces adding to the talent pool and hopefully a greater number of members becoming involved. The talent, brainpower and resources for success are all here.
We have gone from being "The August Place To Be” to an exciting, culturally sophisticated, year round destination. This, in no small part, because of the cooperation of the Convention and Tourism Bureau, the City Center, Chamber of Commerce, Special Assessment District, our local government, police force, Preservation Foundation, Historical Society and the Downtown Business Association.