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Saratoga Village Development Council Promotes Merchants

Networking group boasts 500 shopkeepers, restaurateurs and citizens.

The Saratoga Village Development Council is an eight-year-old networking group dedicated to promoting the merchants of the historic downtown Big Basin Way and Highway 9 area and to building a sense of community among all city residents.

The group includes a “who’s who” of downtown’s 500 shopkeepers, restaurateurs and city residents. The SVDC meets regularly in cyberspace by way of an email listserver and with planning meetings held on the second and last Tuesday of each month.

While many aspects of the group are similar to a chamber of commerce, the SVDC specifically caters only to Saratoga Village.

“The Saratoga Village Development Council is a networking group comprised of Saratoga residents and merchants in Saratoga Village,” said Saratoga’s new Mayor Jill Hunter and the group's chairwoman. “The [Saratoga] Chamber [of Commerce] is a more formal group that represents all business in Saratoga."

The SVDC puts on eight events a year including a Pet Parade in April, a Heritage Day in September and an October “Witchy Walk-A-Bout.”

In addition, the Council works to preserve Saratoga's history. If you check out its website, you’ll learn that Saratoga is one of the oldest towns in the West, founded in 1852 by Irishman Martin McCarty. He named the town McCartyville, but died a few years before the town adopted the moniker of “Saratoga.”

The SVDC promotes the historical significance of various city buildings by paying for bronze plaques, which were placed on five historic structures in Saratoga: the Grover House, Agnes Women’s Apparel, Bella Saratoga, Bell Tower Bistro and the Bank Bar. The council also designed and raised the money for the large Village sign at the entrance to the downtown area.

The SVDC pays for its beautification projects and many events by holding an annual spring fundraiser. The first three were fashion shows held at the Foothill Club in 2006-2008 and currently SVDC holds a Wine & Wisteria event in the Hakone Gardens.

The group wasn’t always called the Saratoga Village Development Group. “Eight years ago there was a group called the Saratoga Business Development Council that was supported by the city to bring more business to the city,” said Hunter. “The city declined to continue to fund the group and it moved to the library to keep it going. I was a member of the group at the time because I was on the planning commission and I thought I could be a help to the group. I was made chair by those at the library meeting and it was decided that the group should focus on the Village because the 70 odd businesses there had no representation. We moved the group to the Village and renamed the group the Saratoga Village Development Council.”  

The group decided that its main focus would be to increase foot traffic in the Village, according to Hunter, and to make the unique area an attractive destination spot.

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Brian A. Berg December 15, 2012 at 07:26 PM
I can provide some more background not included in the story. I set up the original listserver for the Saratoga Business Development Council (SBDC) in 1998. The list was renamed after SBDC became SVDC. It has grown in its subscriber count continually over the years, and is now at 511 subscribers amongst 410 Businesses/Entities. Most of the businesses in the Village are subscribed - both business owners and employees. Other subscribers includes business owners from elsewhere in town, church leaders, school board members and realtors. We also include the entire City Council and many of its employees, as well as a number of the editors and reporters at Saratoga News and its "brethren" publications. 220 of the subscribers are individual residents, each of whom I count as "one entity." One of our newest subscribers is Sheila Sanchez of Saratoga Patch, who posted this story. I am so pleased about the best-ever decorations and lighting this year at Blaney Plaza! Thanks everyone, and enjoy your holidays. Brian Berg, SVDC Listmaster / Berg Software Design owner, a Village business
Chuck Page December 15, 2012 at 10:34 PM
Describing this as a "networking group" may be a bit of a stretch, since the emails that I receive are sent by just one or two people. It is a communications vehicle used by a couple of individual to express their opinions and announce upcoming events, for the most part.
Brian A. Berg December 16, 2012 at 01:10 AM
Chuck, Thanks for your comments. There are many forms of networking. Email lists like the SVDC listserver are one form, an older one now compared with newer options such as Patch, Facebook and multitudes of others. Three people are able to post to this list, a necessary restriction since an email list with 511 people able to post would melt down quickly. The list provides news about events (SVDC ones and otherwise), new merchants, cool sites like Patch, as well as advertising once each week with Monday Missives. It is a "neutral" venue for information, so there is not much in the way of opinions expressed as you indicate. Hence, I see the SVDC list as a networking option that is complementary to the many other options out there. Best wishes, Brian
Julie Davis Berry December 18, 2012 at 07:02 AM
Thanks Brian for sharing this additional information and for your work with this group. I would like to subscribe to this list...how do I do that?
Brian A. Berg December 18, 2012 at 04:05 PM
Julie, You (and any interested party) can forward your name, affiliation (business name, or "Resident"), email address and phone number to me at bberg@stanfordalumni.org and I will subscribe you to the SVDC listserver. Best wishes, Brian

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