Photos courtesy of Michele Buono Photography
The thrill of owning a downtown business is still fresh for Alice Yates.
“Sometimes I drive by at night to see the shop all lit up, just to make sure it looks good,” Yates said.
Alice Yates loves brides. She loves providing fresh funeral flowers as a loving comfort and last tribute.
And she loves selling a “just because” fresh bouquet any day of the week – spilling over with roses, spectacular lilies, vibrant Gerbera daisies or maybe an exotic stem or two.
In fact, the florist and owner of Always Beautiful moved from her long-time Quakertown Farmers Market location last year to West Broad Street in downtown Quakertown for a change of scenery, and a change of pace.
A floral professional for 45 years, Yates said she’s excited to walk through the door of her shop each and every day.
“It’s refreshing to look out of the windows and see everyone,” Yates said.
But what Yates didn’t expect when she settled into her downtown location was to build camaraderie – and therefore important relationships – between downtown retailers.
A recent UBCC member Yates said it was “time to join” after holding off on chamber membership for several years.
As a chamber member she can tap into ways to help promote her business and events and receive instant networking opportunities from other local chamber members.
The downtown camaraderie and contacts helped create the first Quakertown Bridal Stroll, held in April. It’s a unique event Yates spearheaded.
“I want people to walk into my shop, and I want people to walk into everyone else’s shop,” Yates said of the event’s genesis.
The second annual Quakertown Bridal Stroll will be held from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 3.
Yates said the goal is to offer two bridal strolls per year – one each in spring and fall, covering two of the post popular time intervals for weddings while keeping brides-to-be up to date on trends, colors, textures and just about everything bridal.
From men’s formal wear at Fischer’s Tuxedo to gowns at All Things Bridal a few paces away, Yates said the downtown offers a unique opportunity to have it all - and all on foot: Catering, clothing, flowers, hair, nails and make-up, spa treatments, cakes and dessert table sweets, and more.
“Where else can you park once and walk to just about every vendor you’ll need for a wedding,” Yates said.
For more information on Always Beautiful Floral Design Studio visit www.alwaysbeautifulflowers.net or call 215.536.9227.
If you go:
Registration is recommended but not necessary. Brides and their guests receive a map and “passport” which they can get stamped at each participating business. Raffle baskets offer a chance for gifts and significant savings. The Quakertown Bridal Stroll is free of charge.
The Second Annual Quakertown Bridal Stroll will take place from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3 in downtown Quakertown.
Stroll the block from 300 to 400 Broad Street for all your bridal needs; no tickets required. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Facebook Event Page at www.facebook.com/events/590447031288328.
Danielle Bodnar believes Upper Bucks has a culture all its own.
Did you know culture derives from cultivation – planting and harvesting, farming, livestock, land stewardship and preservation.
Upper Bucks is peppered with tight-knit, hometown neighborhoods bound together by steadfast devotion to history and tradition making the region a one-of-a-kind place.
That’s why she loves it here.
As the new executive director of the UBCC, Bodnar said the region is known far and wide for its recreational assets: Lake Nockamixon, well maintained borough and township parks and trail systems, and gorgeous rural landscapes.
She wants Upper Bucks to be known for more: As a thriving commerce and business center, a leader in workforce development and attractive to skilled and professional workers alike.
“We have strong commerce already, great infrastructure and logistics, small mom and pop retail shops, and arts and culture, but a lot of people don’t know about it,” Bodnar said.
Her background from working with Senators Robert Mensch and former Senator Rob Wonderling give Bodnar a unique lens in helping shape legislation and public policy.
Public policy is the outcome of laws and regulations as well as administrative interpretations of those tools, to create legislation that impacts business owners and operators. “Public policy really is about relationships,” Bodnar said.
Bodnar left her position as vice president for government affairs with Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce to come to the UBCC.
She understands workforce development and is thrilled to work with educators and business owners to help forge relationships between emerging young talent and careers in industry and manufacturing.
“Skilled qualified employees to fill open positions, not in the future but today is the number one issue facing businesses,” Bodnar said.
Manufacturing and industry centers are located throughout Upper Bucks County.
The region is poised to become a talent funnel powerhouse with top quality programs offered by Upper Bucks County Technical School in Bedminster Township and educators serving Palisades, Pennridge and Quakertown.
What’s more recruiting and retaining workers means healthy businesses continue to evolve and grow. “You have to look at all levels: How are you filling open jobs, how are you providing growth for your current employees and how are you positioned for the future,” Bodnar said.
Followed by health care, filling open jobs are the top two challenges businesses face across Pennsylvania, according to the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry.
Bodnar has served on numerous committees to further workforce development in the region, including the Manufacturing Council and One Stop Operator Workforce Board Lehigh Valley.
She understands the importance and values community service. She’s served on the Board of Directors of Quakertown Alive!, and volunteers with Pride of Quakertown, which helps fund access to extracurricular programs for underserved youngsters in athletics, music and arts.
Having lived in Upper Bucks County her entire life – Sellersville, Perkasie and Milford Township – Bodnar has sturdy roots here.
“I knew this was where I wanted to raise my family. The sense of community – safe and nurturing - a reasonable cost of living and hometown feeling a lot of places no longer have appealed to us,” Bodnar said.
She and husband Joe Bodnar settled in Milford Township 15 years ago. The couple has two children, aged 7 and 9.
Bodnar began as executive director on October 8th taking over from Tara King who retired from the UBCC on October 5th.
King served nearly two decades; the past seven as its executive director.
“I want to continue building on the fantastic work Tara has done,” Bodnar said.
“PFEW can’t be explained, it has to be experienced,” Scott Lee, vice president of marketing and development, Foundation for Free Enterprise Education in Erie.
Pennsylvania Free Enterprise Week camp began in 1979 with 100 high school students and a handful of businessmen and women, roughly 40 years ago.
This past summer 2,019 students learned what it takes to run a business over five, week-long camp sessions held at Lycoming College and Pennsylvania College of Technology, both in Williamsport.
The program grew out of a need for business curriculum not taught in high schools, according to Scott Lee, vice president of marketing and development of the Foundation for Free Enterprise Education in Erie.
Camps are fully funded, and offer a preview of college life as well as what it means to become a business owner or operator, Lee said.
“The Pennsylvania business community, civic organizations, chambers of commerce, private industry and anyone who believes in education,” may donate to fund the program, Lee said.
“Imagine a 16-year-old that knows how to read a balance sheet,” Lee said.
Rising high school juniors and seniors are eligible to apply for PFEW camp. Camp is not limited to academic high achievers and a student’s GPA, SAT or other college entrance scores aren’t considered during the application process, Lee said.
“You must have a high school administrator’s recommendation to attend – but that’s it,” he explained.
PFEW operates with seven full-time staff and more than 120 volunteers. Mentors return year after year – giving up a week of vacation time to guide and support the next generation of business leaders and entrepreneurs.
“When you hear the speakers – their emotion and their stories, you hear what it was like for them,” said Sam Brandt, 17, a Quakertown Senior High School junior from Richland Township.
Volunteers and guest speakers come year after year because they want to be there.
“They stay until the last question is answered,” Lee said.
He said the service component isn’t lost on the teens either and many return as adult mentors to participate.
Graduates also return as summer interns and go on to become mentors once they become professionals themselves.
“We have speakers who come from Alabama; from New York…they come for free because they realize the impact on young people. It gets into your blood. They’re the mortar in between the bricks,” Lee said.
Real life connections are made, as are lasting friendships, according to Nick Coldwell from Springfield Township. Coldwell is a junior at Palisades High School.
“I knew no one when I got there, and by the end of the week people were coming up to me crying, and saying goodbye,” Coldwell said.
He plans to take a road trip to Pittsburgh with a PFEW alumna he met at camp, who attends Pennridge High School.
Professional goals are set. Barndt said after having a sit-down talk with two legal industry professionals after a camp presentation his future plans “were cemented.”
And Emma Foster, 17, from Sellersville, plans to run for president.
The Pennridge High School junior said thanks to her PFEW experience, she’s aiming for a 2044 bid for the nation’s highest office.
“Since I wrote it down, I feel more motivation to achieve it. I will take what I learned at PFEW and use it my entire life,” Foster said.
“For students it is about transformation. The program is truly one of a kind,” Lee said.
For more information on Pennsylvania Free Enterprise Week: www.pfew.org.
It costs about $1,600 to cover the cost of a student to attend PFEW to learn about entrepreneurship.
Camp scholarships are made possible from proceeds of UBCC’s annual Foodie event, held this year on October 11 at Sands Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram in Quakertown. Tickets remain! Support a youth, open a mind. Call 215.536.3211 or visit www.ubcc.org/foodie
|Upper Bucks Chamber of Commerce||