November 26, 2012


Focusing on small business

Saturday puts spotlight on buying from mom and pop retailers


Mark Ferdinand/contributing photographer
Shoppers look over merchandise on Saturday at Bev and Co. in Homer. The day marked Small Business Saturday, which emphasized local businesses amid the hype surrounding big box retailers and online shopping.

Staff Reporter

HOMER — While shoppers hunt for gifts and good deals at malls and large stores these weekends before Christmas, Small Business Saturday serves as a reminder that there are other options.
Nestled between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the event has gained wide recognition. It was invented by American Express just three years ago to bring people back into local businesses that cannot open before Thanksgiving ends or operate for over 12 hours per day.
Retailers around the Cortland area were happy to be provided any extra incentive for patrons to enter on a snowy Saturday, and responded with competitive sales prices.
Some stores, like Homer Men and Boys, have been through their fair share of holiday seasons. The clothing outlet, which despite the name also sells women’s apparel, has been in Homer for over 60 years. The owners have their own strategy for competing with big chains like JC Penney — or not.
“We try not to compete with them,” said store manager Jim Contento, who has worked at the store for 43 years. He said the store offers upscale brands like Columbia, Lee, Levi’s, and Carhartt at discounts other stores cannot provide. “Our prices are always on sale,” said Contento.
Indeed, sales tags marked most of the tables in the store. Two customers could barely walk abreast among the columns of jeans, sweaters and coats, and other items. The manager said he makes an effort to track other retailers’ prices and beat their sales. With a robust online store as well, the store seldom runs out of product, he said.
“Our tagline is we have the biggest selection and lowest prices in Central New York,” said Contento, adding the store had a steady stream of customers. “We did fine (on Friday), but we’re going to do even better today,” he said as a woman asked him where she could find flannel-line pants for her father.
For a store with a local lineage like Homer Men and Boys, part of its sustainability comes from having plenty of regulars. Lifelong village resident Ingrid Griswold has been patronizing the shop for decades.
“When I was little I’d ask my mother for some money and come here for an extra pair of jeans,” she recalled, lauding the selection. Griswold said it was a convenient place to find clothing for her 6-foot-5-inch husband.
Lily Lanetree, an adjacent boutique store, is experiencing its second Christmas season in Homer.
Sales associate Sheri Major said everything in the store was 10 percent off for Black Friday. She cited satisfactory traffic so far, with a number of customers coming from other communities like Cazenovia and Skaneateles.
The shop sells designer women’s clothing and jewelry. Major said the store’s owner, Carol McQuade, had a unique eye for style and a knack for finding complimentary outfits for customers.
“I’m very grateful to the community for supporting our local businesses,” McQuade said Saturday.
With a rich local history of its own, Bev and Co. on Main Street in Homer had weekend deals on many of its accessories. The boutique sells clothing, jewelry and cosmetics, and employees professed they had steady business on Friday and Saturday.
Shopping with her daughter in Bev and Co. on Saturday was Vicki Brevetti, who said she had a low tolerance for malls and department stores. The Homer resident said she had done her holiday shopping online and in the Cortland shops so far.
“I’ve been sticking around town pretty much seeing if anything catches my eye,” she said.
The boutique will be celebrating its 35th anniversary in 2013.


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