Last week we published an article about efforts to reform the Brookville Area Business Association, an organization that was once a vital group in promoting Brookville area businesses.

In the early 1980s the group would meet at the Brookville Holiday Inn or at Tony’s Li’l Roma. Business leaders would gather around the table and discuss concerns, new ideas to bring people to Brookville and more.

A look back to 1983 had the group reviewing the Christmas promotion during its January meeting. It was noted that 545 children had received a gift from Santa instead of an edible treat during the promotion. The group had also purchased holiday decorations made by Charles Bowdish that had been part of the Stewarts Men Store’s window display. The decorations may have been the spark that had Diana Farley and Melinda Means looking ahead to Christmas 1983 and the beginning of A Charles Bowdish Old-Fashioned Christmas promotion.

The group approved a budget of $4,200 with 60 percent of it going toward promotions. Of that 60 percent, 33 percent went to the Christmas promotion.

An annual banquet was held in January with tickets being sold to those seeking to attend.

BABA, at that time, usually met monthly and set committees to oversee various promotions. In April, the group tied a promotion to the opening of fishing season, calling it Fishing for Savings. Customers could fill out registration forms at participating merchants during the three-day promotion and then all the registration forms were collected for a drawing. More than $600 in prizes was given away from 10 speed adult bikes and a host of gift certificates. BABA even worked with the Pa. Fish Commission to set up a display of live fish in a tank on Main Street during the promotion.

The group didn’t just do promotions, although it had many throughout the year, but it also went to Brookville Borough Council seeking free parking downtown on Saturdays and issues with the lighting on Main Street when the borough would turn some of the lights off. It became involved with the Route 28 Committee that was working on improving the highway with climbing lanes between Kittanning and Brookville.

At that time, the Western Pa. Laurel Festival representative came to a meeting and asked for businesses to put a booth on Main Street during the festival and urged more merchants to put floats in the parade. The local firefighters approached BABA about CPR classes for business owners and their employees.

BABA was interested in a variety of things that could impact the town. They even talked about having a flag or banner that would designate who was a BABA member. The business could place it in their window for all to see.

Back to recent days, the group on entrepreneurs that gathered noted that there is not the number of retailers downtown as there used to be but when one looks back to 1983 it wasn’t just retailers who joined BABA then. Among those attending the meetings were UniBank, Brookville Hospital, Nationwide Insurance, Dietz & Yates Travel and Insurance, Howard Johnson’s, Tonell’s Jewelry, Slagle’s Ice Cream, Galbraith Furniture, Jode’s, Brookville Fast Freeze, Means & Lauf Drug Store, Rubins, Mason Beverage, Brewer Appliance, Brookville Lumber Co., Simpson Beauty Shop, Crook’s Clothing & Shoes, R&D Furniture, McCabe’s Drug Store, Parker’s Indian Trading Post, Agway Petroleum and John Achilles, attorney. It wasn’t just retailers but all sorts of businesses that joined BABA to improve the town however they could.

Now a new group of individuals is coming together to once again make Brookville even better. If you are the owner or manager of a local business and want to get involved, mark your calendar for 7 p.m. Monday, March 18, at the Opera House Cafe on Main Street. Bring your ideas, along with a notebook and pen and be ready to enter the discussion!

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