Photo by Carlotta Mohamed/QNS.
The Whitestone Merchants Association (from l. to r.) Albert Teekasingh, Nick Aragonesi, Jessica Kimmel, Blanca Rodriguez, George Isaakidis, and Nella Viola (missing).

The newly formed Whitestone Merchants Association is working to preserve and promote business within the community.

More than 35 area merchants came together on March 7 at the Holy Cross Greek Church of Whitestone at 11-05 150th St. to network and meet the board of directors, who distributed membership forms and discussed their first official upcoming event in May: A Taste of Whitestone.

Created by a group of six local merchants, the Whitestone Merchants Association’s goal is to plan events at local businesses, bring people together, see the community thrive, and be an added voice to promote the area.

“We have a beautiful community and great representation, but we’re lacking a strong merchant group,” said George Isaakidis, owner of Harpell Chemists.

In order to promote their local resources, the nonprofit organization plans to listen to business owners’ concerns and their needs to sustain and thrive within the community, and garner support from not only residents, but visitors as well.

“We want to bring business to Whitestone,” said Nick Argonesi, of Roman Realty & Associates, and owner of CBD Superstore. “We want to bring the customers here. Our businesses are lacking, the diversity of businesses are lacking. “We’re seeing a lot of rise in businesses that aren’t desirable to people to come in from the outside, but we want to make it desirable for them to come in from the outside.”

A Taste of Whitestone will be the first of many events such as the kids Halloween Trunk or Treat, a July block party, and a holiday tree lighting/Christmas pole lights, the group announced.

“Our goal is to make it bigger and better,” said Isaakidis.

The organization is encouraging and inviting businesses within the community to register for A Taste of Whitestone, to give all of the eateries in the area an opportunity to promote themselves.

“I’m sure many of us go through the town, we bypass stores and have no idea what the cuisine is, what they sell or who they are,” said Isaakidis. “This, I think is a great example of things that we want to do within this community.”

The funds raised from the organization’s membership fee ($100) and events will go toward improving the quality of life in the community such as beautifying the neighborhood, updating Christmas lights, and installing banners on street lamps, according to Argonesi.

Additionally, the group has been collaborating with local civics such as We Love Whitestone to build a relationship with residents and planning future events. 

After launching the Whitestone Merchants Association Facebook page, the members have received a phenomenal number of responses within the past two weeks from residents interested in learning more information.

“Hopefully once we get this off track now going forward with businesses interested, we can come together more and create more events,” said Albert Teekasingh, owner of Tropical Revival.

A Taste of Whitestone will be held Thursday, May 2, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Holy Cross Greek Church located at 11-05 150th St. Limited spaces are available. To register, email WhitestoneMerchants[@]yahoo.com to hold a table (set-up begins at 5:30 p.m.).

The Whitestone Merchants Association next meeting will be held on Thursday, April 4 at 7 p.m.

 

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