10/31/13 meeting: Importing clothing and cultures

Picture 3Meeting at Quigley’s Restaurant
593 Columbia Turnpike
East Greenbush

Attending (12): April Dowd, Bill Dowd, Murray Forth, Terry Brewer, Pat Bailey, Peter Brown, Debbie Brown, Jim Leyhane, Dick Drumm, Dean Calamaras, Debbie Rodriguez, Charlie Foote.

Guests (1): Dan Welch.


Program: Dan Welch of The Sweater Venture


Dan Welch address the club.
Dan Welch address the club.

Debbie Rodriguez introduced Dan Welch, a small business entrepreneur who has been operating The Sweater Venture since 1978.

Dan, who relocated the business to Columbia Turnpike in East Greenbush about 11 years ago, said he knew nothing about sweaters and other handmade clothing when he got into the business, It simply attracted him because of his interest in travel and in people of different cultures.

He and a longtime friend and high school classmate, Roger Martinie, started the company. The two of them  traveled regularly to South America’s Andean countries to procure hand knits and ethnic crafts for distribution throughout the U.S.  In the early 1990s, Dan took over the business, eventually expanding the business to Asia and increasing the number of sales representatives he uses around the country.

Dan just returned from a buying trip to Ecuador; he also deals with cottage industries in Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, Nepal and Thailand.

He spoke about his recent trip,  and his work to provide two-way communication to help his suppliers produce more clothing and crafts that will be of interest to American consumers.

He also spoke about the process of planning, creating and producing many months in advance for each season.

Dan touched on the competition from “big box” stores, and the challenges they represent. He explained that using social networking and websites is mandatory to keep pace with the changing business climate, but noted that bricks and mortar can’t entirely be replaced.


Announcements/Business:

• The first “Rotary Home Cooking” dinner of 2013-14, hosted by the Dowds last Saturday evening, raised more than $300 for the club treasury. The five-course dinner was inspired by a 1950s menu at The Oak Room at The Plaza hotel in New York City.

• “Anchors Aweigh,” the Rotary Foundation dinner, will be held on Wednesday, November 20, at the Glen Sanders Mansion in Scotia. Reservations are $75 each. So far, Bill and April, Murray and Maggie Forth and Debbie Brown plan to attend. We would like to get several more.

• Terry Brewer, Jim Leyhane and Murray Forth represented the SRC Club at a get-together with the Boy Scout Troop 41 on Tuesday. They spoke with about 25 Scout parents about Rotary, distributed copies of our new brochure, and invited the parents and Scout leaders to join us at a dinner meeting as our guests. Terry recommended contacting the scouts and leaders for assistance at the Rotary Run.

• Dean Calamaras said he will contact veteran marathoner Bob Somerville this week about serving as honorary chairman of the Rotary Run. If he agrees to accept, it will be announced in a press release sent to local media.

• The Forths volunteered their home as the venue for our annual Christmas party. President April will contact Murray and Maggie about setting a date, now tentatively December 19.

• Debbie Brown brought up the recent news that cases of polio have been found in refugee camps in Syria. Jim noted that having the disease back in the news may, ironically, help RI’s efforts to keep raising funds to eradicate a disease that has become almost forgotten in our own country.


NEXT MEETING: 6:15 p.m. Thursday, November 7, at Quigley’s. Pat Bailey will present Katherine Chansky, new librarian at the Nassau Free Library, as our speaker.


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