Support Downtown Ridgewood... Now!

Posted: Sunday, December 20, 2009

To whom it may concern:

As residents of Ridgewood, owners of the only local bookstore; Bookends and active members of the Ridgewood Chamber of Commerce, we were shocked to learn that an email was sent out to the Ridge School community announcing their Book Fair at Barnes & Noble in… Paramus!

We were disappointed to learn of this as we have hosted in store Book Fairs/Story Times for many of the Nursery Schools in Ridgewood as well as Fundraisers for Women's Groups/Project Graduation and have supported many Author Events at Ridgewood High School, etc.! Why did the Ridge School not consider working with us? We would have gladly worked with them and we not only sell books but we sell games, toys, and other holiday items. Bookends has been in Ridgewood since 1984 and has survived despite seeing over 35 neighboring downtown Businesses close within the past two years. Our author events alone bring 15,000 people to Ridgewood each year and they park, shop and dine in local establishments!

As residents of Ridgewood we not only pay personal real estate taxes on our home that support Ridgewood schools but we also pay business real estate taxes at Bookends which ALSO benefits Ridgewood Schools!

Given the difficult economic times for Ridgewood businesses and the increase of vacant stores, one would think that now, more than ever, is the time to support our local Downtown Businesses! The Holidays are a time for giving back and supporting your local Community and Businesses….not helping out of town Retailers and schools!

To add injury to insult, the Ridge School Home & School Website banner reads, "Congratulations - The Board Referendum Passed!" This means that taxes will be increased for all Local homeowners and businesses. The next item on the banner highlights the Book Fair being extended for a few more days at the Barnes & Noble in Paramus. We find it ironic that the referendum is passed, raising taxes and this Ridgewood school association encourages residents to spend more hard earned money in Paramus at a business that does not pay taxes in Ridgewood, does not benefit Ridgewood in any way and actually benefits Paramus Schools! Way to go!

Let us share a few other well known facts. Do people realize that for every $100 spent in independently owned stores, $68 returns to the community through taxes, payroll and other expenditures? If you spend that in a national chain, only $43 stays here (or in this case goes to Paramus). Spend it online and nothing stays local…and speaking about online…
Check out the George Washington Middle School website, where they have a direct link to purchasing products from Amazon?! This is equally appalling and is clearly driving business out of Ridgewood. Sure the school may be getting something back, but they are continuing to contribute to our eroding downtown in the process. Lastly, why are Amazon and Barnes & Noble even allowed to advertise on a school website? Bookends and/or any other Local Business would not be allowed to advertise on a Ridgewood School website! It is painfully obvious that the very fundraising programs like these that have been instituted and supported by two of our very own schools are encouraging you, the community to A) Support out of town retailers/websites and B) it is at your own expense as your participation will either help Paramus schools or Amazon and help continue to empty out our beautiful downtown…this is a true recipe for disaster!

We challenge the Ridgewood School Superintendent and the Board of Education to be responsible for disapproving fundraisers that hurt our downtown businesses and take revenue out of Ridgewood. They should make every attempt to support local Businesses and SHOP/DINE RIDGEWOOD FIRST! It is important for the Board of Education to moniter ALL Home & School Association Fundraising efforts, making sure, where possible, they support local taxpaying businesses.

The Superintendent of Education, The Board of Education, Ridgewood Schools and the Home & School Associations need to support Ridgewood , develop a business conscience , set a good example for our Community and rectify this situation in 2010. Now that's a New Year's Resolution that's good for everyone!

Pat & Walter Boyer
232 E. Ridgewood Avenue
Ridgewood, NJ 07450
Store- 201-445-0726