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By Joshua Maloni
What is the key to success? For three of Lewiston’s longest-tenured businesses, the answer is simple: service.
In a “different” sort of year, they invite shoppers to stop in and see what else makes their products, expertise and attention to detail unique. Each one offers something special not often seen in a “big box” store or from a one-click website.
Moreover, these three small businesses enable patrons to transform their homes and yards into respites in a year where, with limited travel options and even less events to attend, a “staycation” has become more necessary.
Stop by and see for yourself on Small Business Saturday.
Nov. 28 is the annual celebration of all things local – and a call to action for people to support hometown merchants.
Hibbard’s Old Portage Shop Wines & Liquors
125 Portage Road, Lewiston
Who knew alcohol had so many different applications?
2020 has taught people it’s much more than a recreational or congratulatory beverage.
In the early stages of the pandemic, customers sought alcohol to make their own hand sanitizer. Now, with the holidays around the corner, people are using it more and more for family recipes.
“If you are going to do baking, there's a lot of Italian recipes that call for alcohol – whether it be rum or vodkas or brandies or a type of port or anything along that line for baking,” Kris Trunzo said. “There are a lot of uses for those types of liquors, and also Chambord’s and the raspberry liquors. There’s many, many more recipes that will be using an Irish cream base or something along that line. There’s even recipes out there that have eggnog bases for cakes and that type of like a vanilla custard-like puddings that have rum in them and that type of thing.
“And a lot more people are staying home and doing a lot more cooking. So, they're making use of these recipes that they find online. Also with a lot of menus. I know myself, I have just started making my own vodka sauce at home. So, obviously, you need to buy vodka. That's a good use. It's something that you can make in a batch and freeze it in smaller containers and pull it out when you need it.
“But a lot of people are doing that – and we did have a run in the very beginning of people coming in to buy vodka to make their own hand sanitizer.”
She said, “There were quite a few people that were making their own sanitizer at home, because of not being able to find it on the shelf. And there are a lot – whether people know it – a lot of organic-type cleaning products that call for vodka and/or Everclear grain alcohol, which, in the beginning, we couldn't keep in stock.”
She noted, “Since New York state brought out the sanitizer for free to businesses and whatever, that kind of dropped off. And a lot of the sanitizers that we got, we got in so much bulk that we would give some of the gallons to some of our employees who had church affiliations that they wanted to put into smaller containers and hand out to parishioners.”
COVID-19 has put so many things on a rollercoaster ride of opening, closing, in-person, online – and for merchants, it’s made ordering more challenging.
“It's just been very hard to gauge,” Trunzo said. “Normally, our ordering process is one way. But with this, there were so many more people that were cooking at home, staying at home, a teeny bit of hoarding (laughs). I have to admit there were some that, in the beginning, were over-buying what they needed just because they didn't want to run out, and were obviously unsure of what was going to happen next. But once things loosened up for the most part, everything became a little bit more normal.”
She added, “You don't want to over-order to a point where you have an abundance of something left over and then it drops off. That’s been a little bit of a hurdle to get over, but our manager, Shirley (Hurst-Beiter), has really stepped up and really done a lot. Someone with four children at home and a widow, it's very hard to find someone with that type of dedication. But she has really been what has kept us afloat.”
Trunzo added, “If we didn’t have her, I don’t know where we would be. One of the most dedicated employees I think I’ve ever run across – ever. … We wouldn't be where we are if we didn't have her behind the scenes doing 99.9% of the work.”
For Small Business Saturday, Trunzo said she is hopeful her store will have an in-store tasting sponsored by a distributor, but she’s monitoring Western New York’s micro-cluster activity to see what will be permitted Thanksgiving weekend.
Shopping small doesn’t mean missing out on products. As shown inside Hibbard’s Old Portage Shop Wines & Liquors, Lewiston merchants have plenty to offer this holiday season.
The Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce encourages people to “Shop Small” with their favorite businesses, because it not only boosts local economies, but also makes a big difference in communities around the world.
It said, “Businesses in our communities are doing everything they can to remain open and follow New York state guidelines for your safety. Please adhere to occupancy limits, mask wearing and social distance guidelines when shopping. Many of our business also offer contactless pick-up options for your convenience.”
President Jennifer Pauly said she knows this year is different for everyone.
“Our businesses are gearing up for the holiday season and need your support more than ever,” she noted. “Some of our businesses are offering an extra incentive for you to stop in. Please think about spending your funds locally. Many of our businesses also have online options, delivery or contactless pickup.”
The Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce is offering a free $15 River Region gift certificate to the first 75 people who stop by the office (895 Center St., Lewiston) beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 28.
There is one catch: The $15 gift certificate is only valid that day at participating businesses. The full listing is available online at www.NiagaraRiverRegion.com.
This promotion will have the potential to immediately put more than $1,000 back into member businesses on Small Business Saturday.
Niagara County merchants with Small Business Saturday Specials include:
•A-1 Land Care – 1527 Ridge Road, Lewiston: Fresh-cut Christmas trees, wreaths and poinsettias.
•Anchor Spirits Wine and Liquor – 113 Lockport St., Youngstown: Celebrating Shop Small Saturday since 2010.
•Buffalo Coffee Roastery – 5844 Buffalo St., Sanborn: $2 off a pound of coffee; $1 off any flavored coffee. (Friday and Saturday)
•*Canterbury Place – 547 Center St., Lewiston: Free gift with purchase. Coupon available Nov. 28 through Dec. 4 for Stonewall Kitchen and gourmet food.
•Cathy’s Hair Port – 777 Cayuga St., Lewiston – Product special – buy two, get one free.
•*Chéri Amour – 522 Center St., Lewiston: Small Business Week runs Nov. 21-29 with in-store promotions on all your favorites, including Kendra Scott, Vidda and T Jazelle.
•Como Deli on Center Street – 555 Center St., Lewiston: Homemade Italian dishes, soups, salads and subs.
•Gentlemans Club Barber Shop – 5839 Buffalo St., Sanborn: $10 haircuts. (Friday and Saturday)
•Gleam & Glimmer Stained Glass Studio – 34 Webster St., North Tonawanda: On Small Business Weekend, our popular pick-a-candy-cane sale. Discounts between 10% and 50% off one item under $50 (exclusions apply); gift certificate special: purchase $100 in gift certificates, get a $25 bonus certificate.
•The Great Foodini Pizzeria – 2564 Academy St., Ransomville – Everything fresh and made in house, including subs, chicken tenders and fish fry.
•Greg’s Pools – 840 Seneca St., Lewiston – Everything for your pool and spa; Abbi’s Toy Corner; puzzles for the holiday shopping season.
•H.A. Treichlers Greenhouse – 2687 Saunders Settlement Road: Poinsettias available for the holidays. (Friday through Sunday)
•Hurtin’ 4 Curtains – 469 Center St., Lewiston: For all your custom drapery needs.
•*Inspirations on Canvas – 449 Center St., Lewiston: Take 10% off all in-store purchases (not including purchases of commissioned art or gift certificates). Enter to win one of five necklaces or a chance at one grand prize of a $50 store gift certificate.
•Kuntz Sanborn Mill – 5890 Ward Road: Take 10% off each item more than $1 (cash or check only). (Friday through Sunday)
•Lewiston Antique Mall – 2692 Saunders Settlement Road, Sanborn: Visit our vendors, who will offer discounts at their booths. (Friday through Sunday)
•*The Lewiston Museum – 469 Plain St., Lewiston: A sneak peak of baskets raffled off Dec. 5-6. Items in the gift shop will be ready to fill your gift needs for those “Hungry for the History of Lewiston.” Open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
•Master barber Aaron Stevens – 744 Center St., Lewiston: Visit me at my new location.
•Niagara Records – 5833 Buffalo St., Sanborn: Take 10% off all records. (Friday through Sunday)
•The Niagara Sausage Co. – 5611 Lockport Road, Town of Niagara: Holiday roasts and hams available.
•Patti’s Cut Above – 2568 Youngstown-Lockport Road, Ransomville: Gift certificates available.
•*The Rose Hanger – 480 Center St., Lewiston: 15% off storewide! Some exclusions may apply. Free Rose Hanger individually packaged cookies from Just Desserts by Aimee (while supplies last) and a raffle to win a $25 The Rose Hanger gift card! Open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Visit www.therosehangershop.com.
•Sanborn Old General Store – 5856 Buffalo St., Sanborn: Open house. Take 10% off each item. (Friday through Sunday)
•Shawnee Country Barns – 6608 Shawnee Road, Sanborn: Open house. Take 15% off anything. (Friday through Sunday)
•Sue’s Frame of Mind – 748 Center St., Lewiston: Expert framing of treasured memories, keepsakes and art; gift certificates available.
•Tortuga Sandwich Shop – 5835 Buffalo St., Sanborn: Come visit our restaurant.
•Tracy Gillick’s Hill-Vue Café & Catering – 1439 Ridge Road, Lewiston: Home-cooked specials for breakfast and lunch; best burgers in town.
•Wagner’s Farm Market – 2672 Lockport Road, Sanborn: Homegrown apples are $12 per ½ bushel. Homegrown squash is $15 per ½ bushel.
•*Warren’s Village Hardware – 185 Portage Road, Lewiston: Your year-round grilling headquarters. Take 10% off Melissa & Doug toys and educational products.
•Wilco Auto Care – 5882 Ward Road, Sanborn: Your “Sanborn Tire Headquarters.” Call us for a great deal. (Friday through Sunday)
•The Winery at Marjim Manor – 7171 E. Lake Road, Appleton: Double-discount day on Friday, Nov. 27. Take 8% off four bottles, or 12% off six bottles; or 24% off 12 bottles. Free holiday wine gift bag with the coupon on Page 11.
*Denotes participation in the Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce member promotion.
Visit the chamber website, www.NiagaraRiverRegion.com, for an up-to-date list.