Joseph F. Berenato
Businesses meet and greet held
HAMMONTON—On May 24, MainStreet Hammonton and the Greater Hammonton Chamber of Commerce—along with the Hammonton Revitalization Corporation’s Economic Vitality Committee—hosted Hammonton Business Appreciation Day behind Casciano Coffee Bar & Sweetery.
From 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., business owners were treated to free coffee or tea, courtesy of Casciano Coffee Bar & Sweetery, as well as free cannoli and cookies, courtesy of Mannino’s Cannoli Express.
Jason Michelini, the chairperson of the Economic Vitality Committee, said that “the idea was for a big thank-you.”
“Obviously, with the times and everything going on, people have struggled. Businesses have struggled. We decided—as a committee, and MainStreet and the Chamber—that we wanted just do something to say thank you, just to give back to the business owners for surviving, and getting through this and sticking with the town, and doing what they had to do. We just wanted to put together a little thank-you and shake some hands and put some faces with names,” Michelini said.
Cassie Iacovelli, Executive Director of MainStreet Hammonton, concurred with Michelini.
“Today is just about trying to bring back together to celebrate, and acknowledge that many towns didn’t make it. We were able to figure out a way to sustain ourselves, and that was with a lot of hard work from the business owners, from town leaders and from people in MainStreet and the Chamber. I think it’s an opportunity to have a way to say ‘thank you,’” Iacovelli said.
John Runfolo, Executive Director of the Greater Hammonton Chamber of Commerce, said that they wanted to thank everybody for “sticking to it.”
It’s been horrific times, physically and mentally—a lot mentally, because people have been down, in their houses, not going anywhere. Businesses have been struggling. They’ve been more accountants than they’ve been businesspeople, because they’ve been working to see if they can get grants and aid,” Runfolo said.
Runfolo said that, though it has been a struggle, the town has been resilient.
“Cassie did a great job with the downtown, and I see construction on the Pike, and people with their tents out and people without tents, and they have parklets. This to congratulate people in a very informal setting, and have a cup of coffee to get your day started. Let’s get into the summertime and get this behind us, hopefully,” Runfolo said.
Councilman William Olivo, the chair of the Business and Industry Committee, attended the event, and said that the mayor and town council “absolutely appreciate all the businesses that have hung on here with us throughout the year.”
“I know it’s been a trying year, and we just want to give back to the businesses that have hung with us. It’s such a special town we live in. The town keeps growing, as far as the businesses. We love it, and we’re succeeding here in these trying times. It’s just a wonderful thing,” Olivo said.
Mayor Stephen DiDonato agreed with his colleague, and expressed his appreciation for the event and its purpose.
“I think it’s great to meet new people, people that are just moving into Hammonton; there’s a lot of turnover. Everybody’s worked hard the last year and a half; it’s been a daunting, long period, but I think we’re at the end. I think with the vaccine and those who unfortunately have been sick, the numbers are starting to get lower every day. I’m anxious and excited for the future of Hammonton and this great country,” DiDonato said.
Many business owners, especially new business owners, also felt that the event was the perfect opportunity to meet new people, including Fabiola Marulanda of Nail and Beauty Lounge.
“I came to meet other people. I’m a new business, and I would like to see the people that are successful in the town and share common things,” Marulanda said.
Caryn Campanelli, of Forged Soul Yoga and Barre, expressed similar sentiments.
“I really like networking with other businesses, so it was a great opportunity to meet some of the other local business owners. I feel like, when you can support each other, and get to know each other and cheer each other on, we all do better,” Campanelli said.
For his part, Atlantic County Surrogate James Curcio—of Hammonton’s Curcio & Curcio—appreciated all that the event had to offer.
“The coffee’s great, and it’s a really great turnout—a really nice group of people. I’m really proud of Hammonton, and glad to be a part of it,” Curcio said.