Q & A Thursday with the Berkeley District Merchants Association

One of the greatest things about living in North Denver is Tennyson Street. The street features, in our opinion, the best collection of unique, locally-owned shops, galleries, restaurants and bars in Denver! When I first moved to Denver over six years ago, I lived in this neighborhood (still do!) and Tennyson Street immediately became my favorite area--it just had a special feel to it. And as the area has grown to be more bustling and popular, the feel is still the same--unique, comfortable and simply fun.

The Horseshoe Craft and Flea is a proud member of the Berkeley District Merchants Association (BDMA), a great organization that helps promote the area as a vibrant place to live and do business. We're so thrilled to have today's Q & A with BDMA. Check out their great website and Facebook page for up to date info on what's going on in the neighborhood! We'll look forward to seeing you all in the Berkeley District on October 2nd for the Horseshoe!

HS: Can you start by telling us how and when the BDMA got its start?

BDMA: The Berkeley District Merchants Association (BDMA) was started in January 2008 by a group of merchants who wanted to bring more attention to the Berkeley neighborhood, especially the variety of galleries, shops, restaurants and services that the area has to offer. The group formed to pool resources allowing for greater opportunities for marketing and promotion.

HS: Can you tell us briefly what makes the Berkeley District so special in terms of Denver history?

BDMA: The Berkeley District has been a popular Denver neighborhood since the late 19th century. One of the main attractions that brought people here was Elitch Gardens which was originally located at 38th and Tennyson. Elitch Gardens opened in 1890 as a zoological and botanical gardens and had a strong influence on the art culture in the neighborhood. The first movies shown in Denver were screened at Elitch’s. Elitch Theater became known across the country as having some of the best summer stock and many of the top actors of the early 20th century performed here. According to the Denver Householder's Directories, Elitch Gardens looked like a microcosm of the Berkeley neighborhood today, with bakeries, grocery stores, hardware and furniture stores, tailors and dry cleaners, barbers and beauty shops, physicians and pharmacies.

HS: What changes have you seen in the community over the last few years?

BDMA: We have seen many new businesses move in to the area, some returning after having tried different locations throughout the city. One of the things that makes the Berkeley neighborhood special is the mix of businesses that have been here for more than 20 years and those that are brand new.

HS: What makes the Berkeley area such a great place to shop/live/be?

BDMA: There is incredible diversity in the Berkeley neighborhood – in population, in housing styles and in shopping and services. There is great access to a number of parks. We are close to the highways for commuting or for a trip to the mountains. In one block of Tennyson Street, you can find a private residence, a restaurant, a yoga studio and a clothing store. Many of the business owners live in the neighborhood so they are truly invested in the community. And there’s a great benefit of being able to walk to our fantastic First Friday Art Walks on Tennyson. There truly is something for everyone here. We like to think of ourselves as being family friendly, fun and funky.

HS: What’s been one of the greatest accomplishments/events/milestones for the BDMA?

BDMA: We are very proud of our always increasing membership of merchants. We started as a small group and are now close to 50 members strong. We have also had some successful events such as Art in the Park, Tenn-Low Turismo and Jingle and Mingle which showcased our great arts culture as well as the variety of shops and restaurants in the neighborhood.

HS: What are some of the ways that people/businesses can get involved with the Berkeley District?

BDMA: There are many ways to get involved with the BDMA. We offer affordable 6-month and yearly memberships for merchants in the neighborhood. And this is not limited to merchants with physical storefronts. If a business is run from a home in the neighborhood, they may qualify to be a member. For those that are members, serving on the BDMA board is a great way to be more involved with the activities of the association. Businesses – both members and non-members – can be a sponsor for our events or provide in-kind services.

HS: What’s in store for the Berkeley District in the coming months? In the coming year?

The BDMA has a lot of exciting things going on. We have just launched the first edition of our new bi-monthly newsletter, “Discover Berkeley”, which will highlight merchant members as well as provide useful information about activities in the neighborhood. We are working on our holiday events as well as planning activities for 2011.

HS: How can I find out more about the Berkeley District?

We have a great website – www.theberkeleydistrict.com - which lists events, sales and specials as well as merchant member listings and membership information. We also can be found on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/BerkeleyDistrict and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/TennysonLowell. Both our Facebook and Twitter pages help to keep people informed about things going on in the neighborhood as well offering exclusive specials to our followers.

Thanks so much, BDMA!

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