Last week we ended with me promising to finally answer the question asked by Lois: How did “On The Road With Sherry” get started?
It all goes back to the year 2008, and that is so hard to believe now. Where does time go? Anyway, back then Kathy Wagner and Steve Young had this great idea. They wanted to promote local businesses, not just Londonderry ones either.
They came up with a way to do this that was very inexpensive for business owners and that would allowed them to have an online presence (which was somewhat new then), a public forum and a wonderful network so that they could also support and get to know each other, too.
Let’s face it, owning a business in any town can be rather lonely at times. The heart of this idea was to use the community's slogan, "Business is Good, Life is Better!" to prove our area is the best place to live, work, and play. It really caught on. Together they developed a business model for what became known as the Londonderry Commerce and Visitors Center. Again the great thing about it was that their goal was to support all local businesses in Derry, Londonderry, Windham, and even Litchfield and Hudson, too.
Once they established their idea, they needed someone who knew the community, had lived here “forever” and I guess looking back someone who was not afraid to knock on doors too. In popped me! At that point I had been a stay-at-home mom for years with lots of degrees, but I was wondering, what I should do next.
Kathy and Steve were wonderful and, honestly, we didn’t know each other well at all back then, but they knew my heart was vested here and they decided to give me a chance. The Londonderry Commerce and Visitors Center was born.
My job was to go around to local existing and brand new business and encourage them to become part of the Londonderry Commerce and Visitors Center. They would receive a beautiful handcrafted wooden plaque that said they were a member, detailed ads that ran on Kathy and Steve’s Londonderrynh.net site and VisitLondonderry.com, and they would be invited to monthly gatherings of the members to share ideas and concerns.
They even had staff behind the scenes, Jackie and Kristin, who developed and managed this new site called Visit Londonderry.
Now how strange is this, just last night Mackensie and her boyfriend Tyler were sitting in our kitchen, pretty spent from studying for college finals. Out of nowhere Mackensie said, “Hey we should all go to Mack’s for ice cream."
If you remember, Saturday was a kind of cool dreary day. John said it was Mack’s first official day for opening. Then I added in being a “Debbie Downer," that I bet they closed early because of the weather.
Tyler didn’t say anything but while we were going back and forth he googled Mack’s to check the closing time. Tyler looked up and said…. “Visit Londonderry’s site says they are open until 9 p.m. tonight.”
Visit Londonderry often still comes up as the first source of information when an internet search is done on a business who became a member. I wish I could name them all here, but in a very short time, we had over 100 business members from local communities.
It was even set up so that individuals could participate too. If you get a chance, check it out for yourself. I just did, and it still has to be one of the most beautiful sights out there. You can also find information on our apple orchards, and so many things about our area. Kathy, Steve and their staff made sure that Visit Londonderry was always positive, fun, and informative.
It was amazing how many hits the Visit Londonderry would get each day.
Each day I would come back into the office to share with everyone the new members and businesses I had visited that day. I would share stories of all the places I had been and what was going on, like new meats that Mr. Steer had, or an update on the expansion at Salon Bogar.
The list and stories went on and on. It was really pretty fascinating. Kris would make up a beautiful ad for each business and Jackie set up links and wrote stories about what the business was all about.
We would even go out and interview each new member and present them with the Londonderry Commerce and Visitors Center Plaque. I bet you have noticed them hanging on the walls of many businesses still.
Each afternoon, I would come in and tell stories about the people and places I had visited on the road that day. Steve would continue working on his computer, but I always knew he was still listening.
This one day, though, Steve pushed back a little in his chair and turned toward me, and said “You should write a story for londonderrynh.net about all the places you go.” He turned back to his computer and started typing.
I was stunned! No one ever, ever suggested I should write! The only thing I said in response was “What would it be called?” Steve turned away from his computer one more time, paused just for a minute, and said “On The Road With Sherry.”
So I did. That next week, I wrote the first "On The Road With Sherry" story and it was posted on londonderrynh.net. That was back in October of 2013. What an honor it was to get lost in my writing, sharing only the good news about local and existing businesses, places that need our help, great people that had amazing stories to share, parks, mead and even my perfectly imperfect family too.
Again, the one thing I knew for sure was that I was not a writer so I decided to just type the conversation I would love to have with you if we were talking together in person.
I remember the first compliment I ever got was a few months in when a lovely young mom parked her car next to mine and said “You’re On the Road With Sherry" right?” Never in my wildest dreams did I think that would ever happen!
She went on to tell me that my blunders where her blunders, that she loved reading about businesses new and old in the area, and that she felt like we were having a cup of coffee or a glass of wine together when she read each story. Again, never in my wildest dreams.
So how did "On The Road With Sherry" end up in the Derry News? Well a couple years back, in kind of an out-of-the-blue way, our own Julie Huss and editor Rosemary Ford asked what I thought about having my stories published in the Derry News. Again, never in my wildest dreams.
My idol growing up and having the Derry News delivered every Thursday to our second floor apartment was Lorraine Lordi. She wrote a weekly column. Lorainne is a gifted, trained, professional writer. What an honor to think the Derry News thought my stories were worth being shared.
It’s hard to believe that I have been writing these little stories every week for over six years now. I love knowing that somewhere out there our conversations are helping a heart, businesses, a place or a cause that needs us all.
People asked have you ever taken anything for your stories. I’m pretty flattered anyone would even think that. One time I did write about a little, hot dog vendor and honestly, I half thought he might offer me a free hot dog, which would have been fun.
Too cute though, he said how much he loved it, that his wife couldn’t wait to show him the story, he was thrilled, but nope… not even a free hot dog.
Always your Sherry, only celebrating the good, and always with a grateful heart that you would read my stories.
Sherry Farrell is Londonderry town clerk and a lifelong resident of New Hampshire.