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Chairman’s Notes

by Russell Swanson, Exec. Dir., VDID, Main Street Vineland

I’ve been doing most of the talking in these columns so, this time, I thought that I’d give our Board Chair, Brian Lankin, an opportunity to give his input and viewpoint on The Ave and what we’re doing. Brian’s experience as a longtime downtown business owner, a former Main Street Vineland team chair, and a Board leader gives his viewpoint significant weight. And now, Brian…

If there’s one thing that comes to my mind when I think of what’s happening downtown today, it’s “positive energy.” I can say this with some experience in our downtown. My business, Al’s Shoes, is the second oldest business on The Ave.

The Lankins have been active in the downtown shoe business for years. My father, Al Lankin, ran my business before me. My uncle, Ben Lankin, was co-owner of Forlan’s Shoes years ago. My father served on our Vineland Downtown Improvement District Board of Directors before me. In 2008, I became chair of our Promotions Committee (now, Team), went on to be vice-chairperson of our Board a few years later and then, chair.

During all this time I have been active—as a subcommittee member, as a liaison to other downtown businesses and as a sponsor—putting money where my mouth is. Al’s Shoes has been the major sponsor of our annual Weddings on The Ave event since its inception, seeing it grow from a business showcase, to a wedding show, and now a print and social media event. Al’s Shoes has been involved in many promotion events that have helped our downtown and of which I’m proud.

Where does the positive energy come in? I’ve just given you some examples, but it’s also reflected in the customers I see every day. Al’s Shoes is more and more of a rarity these days—an independent shoe store that reflects the kind of customer service that was part of downtown retail. I see it in the work of our Main Street Vineland Board of Directors and how they “step up to the plate.” I see it in the hard work of our Executive Director Russell Swanson and Associate Director Robert Scarpa. I see it in the supporting staff. I also see it in our volunteers—from the teams chairs to the volunteers who give what time they can.

We’ve accomplished a lot, as you can see from this column, news releases, and social media posts. I make a point of talking this positive energy up whenever and wherever we have a chance and so should you. The Ave is our downtown and Vineland is our city, Let’s continue the positive energy and build on it.

Thank you, Brian, and now a reminder that the last of our quarterly team meetings will take place this Thursday, July 28. It will be the meeting of our Economic Vitality Team, which assists businesses to better market themselves. With the continued effects of the COVID pandemic, these efforts have been valuable to our businesses on The Ave.

Like the previous meetings, it will be at 12 p.m., at the Main Street Vineland office, 603 E. Landis Ave. You can join in person or, let us know in advance and we can send you the link, virtually on Zoom.

On the Ave