Watertown— Christmas is less than two weeks away and holiday shoppers are still flocking to major retail stores to spend money. However, some North Country residents prefer supporting small “mom and pop” shops. ABC50 spoke with a few local shop owners, to see how business is faring around the holidays.
The manager of Court Street Antique’s, Sandi McCarthy says, loyal customers have been coming to her local antique shop for years. Many of the small businesses around public square know one another. “We try to help each other out, if we do not have something that a customer needs here, we know just about every store and can have a good idea where someone can go”, said McCarthy. Local small businesses tend to have more of a family and community feel.
Court Street Antiques, like many small businesses, tend to thrive best from the loyalty and trust of their customers. According to Court Street Antiques, sales around the holidays cannot be any better. “You can go to a chain store, but, many of our customers come here because this stuff has been around for over 100 years”, said McCarthy.
ABC50 spoke with 23 year old co-owner of Beyond Nerd, Chris Dillon. Mr. Dillon is one of 10 friends that pooled their resources to open up the local video game store. Competing with other larger cooperate companies such as Game Stop, Beyond Nerd hopes gain local support and build their loyal customer base.
“We hope to provide competitive prices and offer services that are not at the larger chain stores”, said Dillon. He explained that Beyond Nerd customers can order customized games that other stores tend refrain from, such as old rarities that are hard to find. Compared to larger chain video game stores, Beyond Nerd says that business is slow during the holidays. However, Dillon and his 9 co-partners are hopeful that their customer base is picking up.
Another small business, only 3 weeks old is reporting customer loyalty and rave reviews. ABC50 spoke with Todd Vito Tarzia owner of Vito’s Gourmet, a mouth watering gourmet soup and sandwich shop, also providing specialty coffee drinks. Mr. Tarzia said, “We’ve (lived) here for years and we know many of the locals. So, although we have only been here for 3 weeks, it helps that we know many by name.” Mr. Tarzia explained that the difference between chain stores and locally owned small businesses is that small businesses can change things quickly.
Tarzia explained that if Vito’s Gourmet feels like changing their menu or changing the way they do things, they can. While larger chain stores do not have that flexibility. As the temperature drops in Jefferson County, sitting at a cozy place to have a warm freshly made bowl of soup or a cup of coffee is a need that Mr. Tarzia says, his gourmet shop has provided.
Some consumers enjoy shopping during the holidays at familiar department stores or a large franchise. However, there are many local consumers that continue to be loyal to the small “mom and pop” shops during this festive season.