2021 Village Awardee: Linda Pagan
It’s that time of year again…time for Village Preservation’s Annual Meeting and Village Awards! The Village Awards recognize and honor some of the businesses, organizations, and institutions that make our neighborhoods such special places, while our Annual Meeting also includes a review of Village Preservation’s activities and accomplishments over the past year. This year’s event will be held on Wednesday, June 16, 2021 at 6:00pm — reserve your spot by registering HERE.
Meet one of our 2021 Village Award winners, Linda Pagan: milliner, entrepreneur, organizer, and tireless promoter of small businesses and the history and character of her neighborhood!
Linda Pagan is the proprietor of The Hat Shop—a 2016 Business of the Month–which opened in 1995 and has since been called by some publications one of the ten best hat stores in the country. The store sells custom and off-the-rack hats for men and women. Sixty percent of her merchandise is made locally by the Hat Shop. Linda’s commitment to local businesses also extends to her choice of manufacturing materials and business and publicity supplies. It has been, however, her efforts beyond her store that truly set her apart as a champion of her neighborhood and business community.
A few years after opening her store, Linda founded, along with two neighboring store owners– Ina Burnstein and Rita Brookhoff–the Thompson Street Business Association to foster connections among local businesses and to facilitate cross-promotional efforts and other forms of mutual support. This organization was instrumental in confronting the challenges that, a few years later, 9-11 posed for all downtown businesses. The group spearheaded efforts to bring shoppers back to the neighborhood. It organized, among other initiatives, an art walk that led visitors into stores and restaurants, each of which had been given a piece of art to display.
In 2007, Linda founded a Milliners Guild in response to the closing of hat suppliers and to the concurrent increase in hat sales. The organization, which still exists, offers a platform for the exchange of resources, ideas, and support among its members, and it provides a mechanism for promoting hats and hat wearing with the general public. Its website, special events, and seminars aim to engage the public, the press, and students of this craft.
At around the same time but a little further afield–after a trip to Kenya–Linda became involved with the Thorn Tree Project. This all-volunteer organization, of which she became and still is president, has the mission of helping fund the education of the children of nomadic families in northeastern Samburu. Thanks to its initiatives, the number of educational facilities and of enrolled Samburu students have increased exponentially over the past couple of decades. Linda is especially proud of this international work, which she regards as a complement to her community based efforts back home.
Those latter efforts became especially vigorous following the designation of the Sullivan Thompson Historic District. Linda and three other store owners within the district launched SoHo Village NYC, a group devoted to educating residents and visitors about local history, as well as to drawing from that history in order to attract customers. Through SoHo Village NYC, Linda has become a tireless promoter of local heritage and local businesses through social media and through the SoHo Map, which she created to help guide visitors through the neighborhood.
The current pandemic has posed an existential threat to businesses’ like Linda’s and to all manner of retail across the city. To address this crisis, Linda helped found Save Our Storefronts (SOS), a coalition of small business from throughout the state that mobilized with the goal of securing through legislative means assistance with the rent debt accrued during the pandemic. SOS worked together with NYS Assemblymember Harvey Epstein, and with the support of Senator Brad Hoyleman, to produce the New York State Save Our Storefront Bill. Due to its mobilization, New York State earmarked $800m in its budget for small business rent or debt relief.
Most recently, Linda has been busy at work forming yet another organization. This one, Neighborhood Network, would operate under the umbrella of SoHo Village NYC and aims to support elderly and single local residents and to mitigate their risks of isolation, especially during crises such as the present one.
Because of all these efforts and accomplishments in enhancing her community, her neighborhood, and her city, Linda Pagan is this year’s Regina Kellerman Awardee at our annual Village Award recipients.
Please join us in celebrating on Wednesday, June 16th! To learn about other 2021 Village Awardees and to register for the event, click HERE