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.
Warren’s Village Hardware
185 Portage Road, Lewiston
When the coronavirus left “New York State on PAUSE” last spring, people had two choices: They could sit inside and watch TV, or get outside and work on those long-overdue home improvement projects.
Judging from the foot traffic at Warren’s Village Hardware, people chose the latter.
“We had a surge initially, when people were home, and when the unemployment was being subsidized. And now it's calmed down. I think everybody's project is done and complete. And we're going into what would be another surge for us, with the holiday season – you know, people decorating because family’s coming over for Thanksgiving and Christmas,” Bill Warren said.
He explained, “Mostly home improvement and paint and cosmetics was the biggest thing that we saw. We don't get deep into home improvements – we don't do flooring and carpeting and that kind of thing. But we went through a lot of paint and paint sundries during that period. But it was a little bit of everything – every department showed improvement – especially lawn and garden.
“We sold more vegetable seeds and flower seeds this year than we probably have in the last five. And then that meant that garden tools went during the summer, and potting soil. That was another element; grilling was another area that perked up this year, too. People were staying home; they weren't going out. Every department was touched. The biggest increase we saw was in the paint area, though.”
Though there were less activities in Lewiston over the warmer months, “We did see an increase in customer count, because I don't think people initially wanted to go into the larger stores and be exposed to hundreds of people, if you will,” Warren said. “So that, I think, did help us. We've heard a lot more people talking about shopping local, which is great.”
“We've gotten some new regulars,” said Bill’s daughter, Ashley Warren.
COVID-19 concerns notwithstanding, Warren’s clientele keeps coming back because “It boils down to service,” he said. “They can come in and talk to us, and we can solve problems quickly, get them on their way. We have the same products – we don't have the same depth, if you will, that ‘big box’ stores do, but I would say 85% of what a homeowner needs, 90%, we have. And we've done it. I mean, everything that we talk about we've done in our own homes over the years, and so we can speak from experience – not just book readings. It’s service and convenience. We're here, and we monitor our pricing. That's one thing I really keep an eye on is our pricing and make sure we're competitive. We're not here to gouge, because of our location, that's for sure. And I think there's a certain assumption that that takes place when you get away from the ‘big box’ stores. For the most part, we get comments that we’re lower than Home Depot on items, which we like to hear.”
The Warren family members also have heard more requests for outside laborers. Their store has become known for its recommendations of utility people.
“The people we recommend, we know that they have a good track record,” Ashley Warren said. “We've had their name from someone else that said, ‘Yes, they've done a good job.’ We've known them, or maybe dad’s known them since DeFranco's, and we know they have a good reputation and things. We don't just get cards in and just give any name out; we try to make sure we know that they've done a couple of jobs – that they will show up, that they will be on time, that they're clean, that they're everything that everybody's looking for down here.”
On Small Business Saturday, “We have a line of Melissa & Doug toys and educational products that we put a little discount on for the duration,” Warren said.
In 2021, Warren’s Village Hardware will mark 10 years in business. Again, Warren reiterated this milestone is possible because, “We listen to our customers, and if they need something/want something, we make sure that we can get it, if at all possible. And it's reasonable. And I think that's what people see, is that we're willing to go the extra mile; we're not just here to sell what we have – we're here to sell what they need. And I think that makes a big difference.”
Shopping small doesn’t mean missing out on products. As shown inside Warren’s Village Hardware, 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.