By Mark Boshnack
The Daily Star
---- — ONEONTA — A nationally promoted campaign is encouraging people to recognize the importance of local merchants by patronizing those businesses Saturday.
Small Business Saturday was created in 2010 by American Express to help local stores during one of the biggest shopping weekends on the year, according to the company’s website.
“This is a great idea,” Julia Goff, program manager for Main Street Oneonta, said Wednesday. “We support it.”
Her organization’s mission is to encourage people to shop downtown, she said.
A lot of the money spent in local businesses “stays in our community and benefits the community,” she said. Often the local owners are the same people that support a variety of neighborhood activities, she said. “It’s time to repay them by shopping here.”
Several Oneonta Main Street store owners said they support the effort.
Theresa Cyzeski, an owner at Theresa’s Emporium, said she was aware of the campaign.
“It’s a good idea.” The store sells gifts toys and home decorations. She said she hopes people come to Main Street through that initiative, Saturday’s Main Street Oneonta Santa parade and other events. “We’d like to show them what we have to offer.”
Shopping locally saves on gas and helps maintain a sense of community, she said.
Kelly’s Candy has been open for two weeks, and Sean Goode, who owns the business with his wife, Kelly, said he was still getting confections in for the season. Patronizing neighborhood shops is an important way to support the local economy. It keeps more money in the area and makes for a more “vibrant” downtown.
He expected that a fairly large percentage of the store’s business will be done during this time, he said, so anything that will encourage shopping locally is important.
Project Anthologies owner Melany Tenore said she has let people know about Small Business Saturday through a variety of social media. The store sells designer fabrics and sewing supplies. As a small business owner, “it’s an important effort.” When people spend their money locally, “we, in turn, can do the same for others.”
Stephanie Miller, co-owner of Leilani’s, which sells formal wear, jewelry and lingerie, said she had not heard of the campaign, but “it’s a great concept.” She opened the store two years ago and said she thinks people realize the importance of supporting the area businesses.
Business owners contacted in other communities also support the program. Cooper Country Crafts treasurer Judith Curry said the day is an important effort to help maintain local businesses. The business is a crafts cooperative.
“I try to do all my shopping locally,” and she said she was hoping others continue to do so. Without that, she said, “business just won’t survive locally.”
“Too many people head for the malls and don’t think about all that is offered” by stores in the area, Curry said.
At Main Street Cards & Gifts in Delhi, owner Will Outsen said shopping locally supports members of the community and the town itself. The store sells such items as housewares, cards, candles and jewelry. Some members of the community might take their small business for granted, he said. He encourages residents to see what their local stores have to offer. “They might be surprised.”