5 Questions with Dan Groberg, Executive Director, Montpelier Alive
By John Gales
Five Questions with Dan Groberg, Executive Director, Montpelier Alive
Dan, What is Montpelier Alive?
Montpelier Alive works to enhance the liveability and vibrancy of Montpelier by lifting up its heart and soul: its downtown. Through our work, we create and sustain a beautiful and vibrant downtown full of thriving local businesses, and spread the word to encourage people to visit.
With Covid – 19 there’s obviously challenges and new ways of doing things. How do you deal with that, and promote Downtown Montpelier at the same time?
Our first priority has been providing on-the-ground support to our incredible local businesses. We’ve been holding weekly meetings of business owners, regularly communicating information on funding opportunities, reopening guidelines, etc., and providing one-on-one technical assistance to help businesses recover. We’ve also been communicating all information about what businesses are open, online shopping opportunities, and so forth to community members. We are looking ahead to creating safe events downtown, including our Hunger Mountain Co-op Brown Bag Summer Concert Series starting in late August and our fall shopping celebration, Moonlight Madness, in mid-October.
Montpelier has been in the news lately with a few distinctions. Tell us about them.
The biggest news is that USA Today just named Montpelier the second best small town for shopping in the United States. We’re really proud of that one because our store owners have been working so hard to adapt to COVID and they deserve this honor. Montpelier has more than 40 independently-owned boutiques that provide unique products and terrific customer service. Even during COVID, Montpellier businesses bring the joy back to shopping.
How are you finding the future of commerce in Montpelier?
I remain optimistic about the future of commerce in Montpelier. Our downtown businesses are owned by our fellow community members, and when they hit hard times, we rally to help them out. COVID has led people to recommit themselves to supporting local businesses, especially as the big online stores have crashed under the pressure. Plus, our local businesses have added new convenient options for customers like curbside pickup and online shopping.
Finally, how do you spend your off time in Central Vermont?
In a normal summer, my perfect day would include a trip to the Capital City Farmer’s Market in the morning and a Vermont Mountaineers game in the evening. Unfortunately, the pandemic has changed some things, but I’m still able to enjoy Vermont’s abundant natural beauty and spending quality time with my family.