New Hartford, N.Y. - Small Business Saturday once again followed Black Friday this week, and once again it put the spotlight on how important small businesses are to our economy, but it also each year sheds a light on how hard it is for small businesses to compete against the bigger box retailers.
A mix of people walked the walkway in front of the stores at the New Hartford Shopping Center on Saturday. They can hit quite a variety of retail establishments along their walk, and many of those shoppers realize that they are what keeps these small businesses in business.
Marlene Anderson says she loves the New Hartford Shopping Center because of its unique stores and the store's passionate owners, like Sam Colozzi, who owns Colozzi's Gift Shop, "I love to support local, especially Mr. Colozzi's shop. You can buy anything you want here, for a gift, or for yourself."
Sam Colozzi says he appreciates his longtime customers as well as the new ones that come in, especially those who come in on Small Business Saturday who realize how important small businesses are to our economy, "I know this New Hartford shopping Center is the place to be. It’s all people like me, small business people. I’ve been in business 34 years here, some of these people have been in business even more. You know we live here, we pay taxes here, we support the community, so take care of us, help us."
That is just what many people came out on Saturday to do, but it the foot traffic did seem lighter than in recent years.
A big reason, the biggest retailer on the block, Herb Philipson's, closed its doors earlier this year.
Sam Colozzi says he expects the management of the shopping center to continue to market the location and he hopes that a new store will move in soon. He says there are plenty of reasons for a business to locate here, "It’s the right spot, the right location, it’s easy to get to, you can park your car in front of it."
We did reach out to Bill Morris who runs the New Hartford Shopping Center to see if there has been any interest from any retailers on the Herb Philipson's location, but so far we have not been able to reach him.
Kristen Heselton, owner of Lady and Leap Toy Shop, says she too hopes to see another retailer move in to the Philipson's location, but she says whether there's a big draw like that in the shopping center or not, it's tough for small business owners like herself to compete against the bigger box stores throughout the area.
Heselton says she has to make sure she has very unique products, and says she even offers services that maybe no one else offers, "It's difficult. We have to find ways to get people to come in that are different than the typical store. We have birthday parties for children and we also have weekly classes for babies and also for toddlers. We also have weekly things like a craft day on Saturdays and we also do Parent Night Out, we have Paint and Sip's, and in December we have all different activities."