Bristol Borough Business Association is Proceeding with Passion
by Cate Murway
Bristol grew rapidly during the early part of the eighteenth century. The influx of population into this location must have been considerable, indicated by the fact that a market town had become a necessity for the comfort and convenience in the largely Quaker community. Formerly known as Buckingham, it had been chartered as a Market Town in 1697.
Hard- working, enterprising young entrepreneurs with their careful management ensured that business increased and the establishment of a mill, the first in Bucks County, in 1701 spurred further growth. The ferry, the markets and the agricultural fairs attracted new settlers to the area. The provincial government's 1705 decision established a courthouse on Cedar Street and Bristol was the first seat of justice in Bucks County. In 1720, the Burgesses [Mayors] were Joseph Bond and John Hall. The High Constable was Thomas Clifford and Bristol, the third oldest town in Pennsylvania, incorporated as the second chartered borough.
A line of stage wagons was established in 1732 with New York and Philadelphia being the terminus points. The only building surviving from Bristol's initial period of development is the Friends' Meetinghouse, located at the east corner of Market and Wood Streets.
Mill Street, the principal commercial street in Bristol, remained heavily residential in character throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Beginning in 1860, the prosperity revolved around the more than 24 industrial endeavors, including airplanes, chemicals, silk, soap, zinc, woolen yarns, carpets, hosiery, leather, wallpaper, woodwork, cast iron pipes, shipbuilding, and stove and machine casting.
Bristol benefited from the largest markets in the world and ideal transportation.
“Cordial Welcome. Courteous Service.”
Tucked away on the picture-perfect banks of the Delaware River, historic Bristol Borough continues to offer the finest in hospitality, unique shopping, a plethora of amazing restaurants and town festivals, all in a beautiful pedestrian friendly town. It’s hard to believe such a small walkable town, primed to once again realize its potential, could have so much to offer, from shopping to food, to cultural arts.
Steven J. “Steve” Corleto, proprietor of the Mill Street retail stores, Barking Spyder Board Shop and Steve’s Tees, Awards and DeSigns, the former President of the Bristol Borough Business Association has passed the baton. Steve was applauded for conscientiously spotlighting what was new and what was working, being intensely mindful of the BBBA digital footprint that reflects a conglomerate of informative, educational, thought-provoking, fun, friendly, and positive communication based on entrepreneurial ideas and actions. Under his guidance, BBBA showed its true colors.
“Thank you to Steve and his team of officers for presiding over the interest in Mill Street and congratulations to you,” stated local author/Bristol Borough Raising the Bar organizer, William M. “Bill” Pezza.
James Edward “Jimmy” Bason, Jr., proprietor of the "Best of Bucks 2013" Bird of Paradise Flowers and the new 2014 Bristol Borough Business Association President, enthusiastically accepted the BBBA baton at the Annual January Dinner Meeting held last Thursday at the King George II Inn. He vowed, in his typically endearing modest demeanor, to continue the cooperative effort of historic Bristol on the Delaware’s dynamic independent business owners.
“It is a new day and we have new goals,” Jimmy stated.
An added surprise was when he was “caught off guard” and was presented with the 2013 Business Person of the Year plaque. “I’m totally unprepared for this. I was absolutely flabbergasted. The award was the best part of the evening.”
Jimmy consistently “performs over and above” per Richard P. Vallejo, proprietor of Another Time Antiques and a BBBA member for 36 years, as well as acting President for 21 of those years.
Jimmy Bason volunteers his time and energy in a variety of diverse community endeavors, including the “Raising the Bar” and erecting the Mill Street “Welcome” projects. He also sits on the Board of the Directors at the Bristol Borough Active Adult Center and volunteers at their Bingo functions.
“I call the balls!”
Mayor Patrick D. “Pat” Sabatini, Sr., is “excited about the direction of the multifaceted revitalization plan involving many business people and the aggressive movement for grants and other ways to raise money. I see a light at the end of the tunnel.”
“Mrs. Mayor” Lori J. Sabatini, proprietor of Fink’s Flowers and Gifts agreed, “I do think Mill Street is headed in the right direction. The storefronts are nice and colorful and decorative and look great!”
The committed BBBA team, spreading the word that shopping locally, eating locally and giving locally is essential to sustaining a vibrant community, includes Joseph J. “Joe” Barbagallo of the Bucks County Rescue Squad, vice president; Patricia “Patty” Samuels, First Federal of Bucks County, Bristol Branch Manager, treasurer; and Joanne Ryn, proprietor of Jo Marie’s Boutique, secretary.
Everything started as the Mill Street Business Association after WWII in the 1960’s. When Harriman was included in the 1980’s, it became known as the Bristol Borough Business Association.
Rich Vallejo shared, “They made sure you were going to stay in first. They gave you a 6 month trial membership before you were allowed to be a member.” Charlie Richman, the proprietor of Richman’s, a window treatment, curtain and drapery store was the President.
Alan J. Vogenberg, BSPharm, RPh, FASCP owned “Alan’s Pharmacy” from 1958-1970 and he was very active in the association. “They advertised and brought people to town and they would pass my pharmacy at 595 Bath Street and the corner of Buckley. A salesman from the Courier Times was dedicated to Mill Street and its center section was just Mill Street.” He recalled Charlie Richman and Leon Plavin, businessman and a community and civil-rights activist, visiting neighboring business districts to see why they were successful. Former Representative Peter H. Kostmayer flew to Lowell, MA to learn about industrial building repurposing.
The Association dues “were based on sales and used for advertising. We did things together and advertised as group.”
Alan coined the slogan, “Don’t let your dollars roam. Shop at home.”
In 1993, members began floating a proposal to start passenger ferry trips between the borough's waterfront and Philadelphia's Penn's Landing, wanting the borough with its historic areas to be a destination.
The BBBA Merchants & Professionals is “rooted in the past and growing towards the future”.
Graphic designer, Hanah Bae created the new website and the brochures. She and facilitator, Shea Cialella are ready to move full steam ahead to achieve goals.
President Jim Bason is very optimistic. He is determined to make Bristol Borough the best ever.
The BBBA welcomes local businesses, entrepreneurs, civic groups, and non-profit organizations who are interested in working collectively to empower each other and the community for success. The benefits of a membership, with a nominal $300.00 fee, include advertising discounts and bulk advertising for your business. There is also signage available along US Route 13 for the "Member of the Month" and discounts from other associate merchants as well as free access to Mill Street for certain events, for any member not already located on Mill Street.
“Bristol extends to all visitors a welcome. Bristol invites investigation by industrial concerns desiring an ideal location.” Bristol Directory, 1929, compiled and published by H.A. Manning Co., Springfield, MA
Green, Doron, 1911, A History of Bristol Borough, printed by C.S. Magrath, Camden, NJ
PO Box 1293
Historic Bristol Borough, PA 19007
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