If you have dreamed of creating your own ice cream flavor, seeing your name on a building in downtown Princeton, owning an assortment of autographed liquor-themed books to give as holiday gifts, getting a backstage tour after seeing “The Nutcracker,” or learning to make coffee like a barista, your chance is now.
All of these and dozens more alluring items, services and activities are included in the Princeton Community Auction to benefit local independent and small businesses and their employees.
The idea for the auction came out of the need to help the many small businesses in Princeton that are suffering dramatic financial losses as a result of the current COVID-19 pandemic.
“We knew the pandemic would impact every business,” said Hank Siegel, CEO of Hamilton Jewelers, which spearheaded the fundraiser to protect the Princeton that residents know and love. “Smaller specialty businesses make up the character of the town. They define what Princeton is all about,” he said.
Siegel and his staff at Hamilton Jewelers held a brainstorming session to find ideas on how they could help those who have been affected. “We tried to think what we could do to engage the community and help the businesses,” he said.
Setting a goal of raising between $50,000 and $100,000, the staff, led by Hamilton Jewelers Vice President Donna Bouchard, created the auction website and spread the word that they need people to contribute whatever they can to be auctioned as well as make bids to purchase the broad range of items.
“The response has been fantastic,” Siegel said.
Bidders are responding from around the country, he said, and the number of auction items increases daily.
The auction continues through May 20. Local businesses can apply to be considered for funds, and all funds raised will be evenly divided among the small businesses that qualify, Siegel said. Hamilton Jewelers is underwriting the fundraiser and will receive no funds from the auction. “Our intent is to raise the money and have all of it go to the businesses,” Siegel said.
Bidders can check out the items on the auction website. Businesses wishing to apply for funding through the fundraiser should visit the auction website and fill out an online form.
With more than 50 items up for auction to date, Siegel is enthusiastic about being able to help local businesses so Princeton can continue to be Princeton.
“When this is over we just want to see everyone come back and continue to thrive,” he said.