Walking around downtown Leesburg. Talking with merchants. Helping to make things happen. This is Gwen Pangle’s home turf – and she wouldn’t want it any other way.
Pangle, who will serve as president of the Leesburg Downtown Business Association this year, has lived in Leesburg for almost 40 years.
Pangle originally lived on Watson Road in Leesburg, where she began raising her family in 1977. After she and her husband divorced when the children were young, she moved into downtown Leesburg.
As someone who enjoys the ability to peruse shops and restaurants and the bustle of downtown life, she knew this is where she wanted to continue raising her young family.
"I love walking around town and getting to know the merchants," Pangle said.
Pangle has a nursing degree and practices as a volunteer with the medical reserve corps and the Loudoun Free Clinic. She also has a real estate business, Pangle and Associates, and has been an agent for 26 years.
With a new board full of fresh ideas, the Leesburg Downtown Business Association (LDBA) is gearing up for an exciting year.
"This is LDBA's 10th anniversary, however I am relatively new to the organization," Pangle said.
"At our first meeting the board decided that we would serve as a support group and liaison for businesses," Pangle said.
"We want to create a downtown area where people want to come, especially among the 30-something age group. We would like to increase nightlife and restaurants. Tally Ho is a great example of that. We want to advocate for the town and make positive changes. Let's make it so people know who we are," Pangle said.
This is music to the ears of Don Devine, who revitalized and reopened the Tally Ho Theatre last year as a place for live music entertainment. "Gwen is very pleasant and open to new ideas," said Devine, owner of Tally Ho.
Don Chapman, vice chair of the Leesburg Economic Development Commission agrees.
"She is an insightful, intelligent, and passionate woman with a real desire to help our town achieve great things. I am proud to call her my friend and fellow commissioner."
Pangle described the many construction challenges Leesburg will be facing in the next couple of years, such as the sidewalk and curb expansion, and said she hopes the LDBA can serve as "cheerleaders for the businesses and help keep things fresh".
"The changes will make it more appealing and I hope people will see Leesburg as a destination place," she added.
Fellow LDBA board member Lynn Mischler, owner of The Other Kind of Jewelry Store, said she hopes to “bring some of the history of the town back, by holding some history events and trying new ideas”.
Pangle mentions the idea of showcasing a historical “day in time, what we were eating, doing and how things looked on a certain date. People could wear period costumes and experience the food of that time”.
“We would love to apply for a grant to create an event such as Mardi Gras,” Pangle said. “There is a solid foundation, we need to refine what we have using social media and continue to serve as a mouthpiece for our businesses,” she added.
She encourages people to park their cars and take time to get out and walk around the historic area. "When I walk around downtown, I see so much more than when I am driving through," Pangle said.
The LDBA is working on several events this year, including helping promote Loudoun Agriculture Day, which is Sept. 21 from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. The event will highlight Loudoun County agriculture with farmers and vendors providing educational displays and activities for children. There will be wine tastings, cheese making, farm equipment displays, pumpkin painting, music and much more.
New this year, Leesburg is hosting tastyLOUDoun, a music, arts and food festival, which will be held Columbus Day Weekend, Oct 11 - 13. “This is a large undertaking with music, art and food,” Pangle said. “Over 125 bands will be coming in to Leesburg over Columbus Day weekend at over 16 venues. It should attract a younger crowd, “ Pangle added.
Pangle said it is going to be “a great event for Leesburg. It is family-friendly. We will help the merchants understand how they can get involved and what they can do to make it a positive experience for them”.
There will be as many as 3,000 people a day at tastyLOUDoun, as well as all of the bands and the people following them.
Pangle is off to a strong start in her new role, with support from merchants and shopkeepers, but also from key local leaders, such as Marantha Edwards, Economic Development Director for the Town of Leesburg.
“As a longtime Leesburg resident and residential Realtor, Gwen is well connected and focuses on matching people, projects and ideas. As a member of the Leesburg Economic Development Commission and her new role as chair of the LDBA, I look forward to working with her on economic development initiatives that are exciting and sustainable,” Edwards said.
About the Leesburg Downtown Business Association
Founded in 2003, the Leesburg Downtown Business Association was formed to "Increase customer traffic in member businesses, create a more vibrant downtown atmosphere, and engage retail business owners and managers, property owners, professionals, and homeowners in the overall improvement of the historic district of downtown Leesburg.”
President/Community Relations: Gwen Pangle, Pangle and Associates
Vice President: Anita Henry, Rouge Spa and Boutique
Treasurer: Chris Padden, Sona Bank
Secretary (Rec.)/Promotions: Michell Cobb, Loudoun Times Mirror
Secretary (Corr.): Pia Miranda, Windy City Red Hots
Promotions: Lynn Mischler, The Other Kind of Jewelry Store
Membership: Sola Pallotta, Very Virginia/The Pink Shop
Branding/Website: Pia Miranda, Windy City Red Hots
First Friday: Sola Pallotta, Very Virginia/The Pink Shop