Bordentown Historical Society acknowledges local commerce with panel discussion

Vincent Amico, owner of Vincent's Ice Cream, speaks at a Nov. 9 panel discussion for Bordentown business owners at the Friends Meeting House hosted by the Bordentown Historical Society. Submitted Photo

In recognition of the Bordentown’s businesses and merchants, the Bordentown Historical Society served as the host to an event to explore the past and future of the area’s local commerce.

As part of the Bordentown Historical Society’s current exhibit, “Made, Bought, and Sold in Bordentown,” the organization was the sponsor to a Nov. 9 panel discussion at the Friends Meeting House on Farnsworth Avenue, which invited local business owners to share their perspectives on the area’s history of commerce, entitled, “The View from the Shop Window.”

This merchant’s-eye-view event was aimed to capture comments from experienced business owners in Bordentown with unique views and knowledge of the history of business in Bordentown and beyond. The event featuring multiple store owners in town including, C.J. Mugavero, owner of Artful Deposit; Vincent Amico, owner of Vincent’s Ice Cream; and Robert Pecht, owner of Bordentown Home for Funerals.

After the historical society’s current exhibition series kicked off this October, the organization scheduled multiple events to coincide with the exhibit, which included the November panel discussion.

For Bordentown Historical Society Co-President Tim Rollender, he explained that he felt the dialogue between the local business owners and attendees not only provided interesting information on the background of each location, but how it serves into a larger scale of commerce in the town.

“We are fortunate to have such a successful group of dedicated entrepreneurs in town,” Rollender said. “They were so open about their paths to entrepreneurship, their trials as a small business and keys to their success. It was a common theme across the board – passion, resourcefulness, dedication – that has made them successful.”

The historical society co-president also explained that the significance of panel discussions like this can also help preserve what may be a fleeting aspect or partial history of Bordentown. Rollender said that the November event for the local business owners can help sustain and record firsthand accounts of the area’s history.

“Bordentown has some incredible history. Most of the stories and artifacts tied to those stories about our past are long past,” Rollender said. “This might be history tied to Joseph Bonaparte, the American Revolution or even the Ice Age. People often take more recent history for granted because in a sense, we are still living it.

“In fact, that recent history will be distant history someday, so we should do our best to acknowledge it and care for it while we can to best preserve it. Having this panel of entrepreneurs talk through their history is part of that preservation,” Rollender added.

In continuation of the historical society’s exhibit series for local commerce, Rollender explained that the intent of the program can help acknowledge Bordentown’s past, current and future businesses, all of which helped define the area.

The co-president said that the exhibition series may even provide a source of inspiration for new businesses and owners to come to Bordentown.

“Having [the business owners] talk about their personal stories makes the history more tangible,” he said. “It can make the lessons come alive for people. For these local merchants to take their time and share their stories can be such a teaching moment for all of us. They shared what it was like to open and run their own business in ‘small town’ America.

“They offered a perspective of changing career fields and finding true happiness. Their comments might be the spark to inspire more great entrepreneurs in Bordentown. We have such a great community. To have these individuals tell how they helped to make it what it is today, to share their challenges and successes is really special,” he added.

The “Made, Bought, and Sold in Bordentown,” exhibit will run through December. The exhibit is currently on display at the Bordentown Historical Society Friends Meeting House located on 302 Farnsworth Ave. and is open the first and third Saturdays of each month from 12 p.m. – 4 p.m. The schedule will be adjusted during the holidays.

The exhibit features a wide array of archived and donated artifacts with ties to local businesses such as items from past dressmakers and clothing stores; bottlers for hotel and pharmacy services; banks; photography studios; shipping in relation to the Delaware & Raritan Canal and the Camden & Amboy Railroad; merchant bill heads and a ruler from Jeffrey’s Store owned by Jeffrey Goldman; and furniture owned by merchant Samuel Burr and his son, Charles when Burr’s Corner and Burr’s Hardware Store were established in town. Photographs of Downtown Bordentown that were donated by former Bordentown City Mayor Joseph Malone are on display, too.

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