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Businesswomen meet for mutual support

December 28, 2004|by JULIE E. GREENE

julieg@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - Whether it's advertising, business issues, moral support or just talking about their families, seven downtown Hagerstown businesswomen said they can turn to one another for help.

The Uptown Shoppes of Downtown Hagerstown, as the group was named three years ago, is a group of downtown businesswomen who meet occasionally and combine their advertising efforts to save money for the small businesses.

This past fall, members started meeting weekly at The Gourmet Goat for coffee, breakfast and business feedback, they said.

The members are Brenda Goodwyn, owner of The Figurehead II; Marge Davis, owner of Basketful of Gifts; Shana Ringer, owner of The Boutique LLC; Peggy Cushwa, owner of Maggie's Hang-ups; Lola Mosby and Lela Greene, twin sisters and co-owners of L&L Classic Clothing; and Lori Ruda, manager of Lena's of Hagerstown. The shops are at or near the intersection of Franklin and North Potomac streets.

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Cushwa and Davis began advertising together to get more bang for their advertising buck and more businesspeople joined in three years ago, Cushwa said.

The group has shared the cost of print and radio ads. This year the members invested in their first television commercial. The commercial shows a woman going to the shops and carrying her purchases, to the tune of Billy Joel's "Uptown Girl," Cushwa said.

"Individually, we couldn't have afforded it," Cushwa said.

While the City of Hagerstown does a lot to promote downtown, "it's our job to promote our businesses," Cushwa said.

The group is about more than advertising.

Goodwyn said members brainstorm ideas to help each other and talk about how to handle business issues.

They also use their weekly meetings to talk about family and vent their business concerns, members said.

"These people understand (business concerns), where your family may not," Davis said. "You unload here instead of carrying it home."

They check in on one another, too.

For example, they will check on one another if someone is working late or one of them calls because a suspected shoplifter is in one of their stores.

Cushwa said downtown Hagerstown is "not unsafe" and there is plenty of parking.

Cushwa and Davis said they've had people from Martinsburg, W.Va., or Frederick, Md., spend an afternoon shopping downtown and wish more local people would.

Members said if their store doesn't have an item a shopper is looking for, they refer the customer to other shops in the group or other downtown businesses.

"We really want everyone to do well because then we will all do well," Cushwa said.

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