January 20, 2022

Off to a slow start

Small Business Saturday draws few customers

Sarah Bullock/staff reporter

Amanda Conrad, of Robinson Family Jewelers, holds French bulldog Pearl, dressed in an elf ensemble, as she overlooks a jewelry case Saturday afternoon on Groton Avenue in Cortland

It was a slow Small Business Saturday in Cortland, with several shops failing to attract customers for sales.

“It’s my worst Saturday of the year,” said Steve Wineburg, owner of Bernard’s Custom Logo & Engraving.

The free engraving sale for Saturday’s event had not brought in the customers Wineburg had hoped for.

“People are shopping online,” he said. “And there’s just not enough retail downtown.”

Stacey Twigg, owner of Floristry by Ithaca Flower Shop on Main Street, said the day was not unusually slow. More people buy floral gifts closer to Christmas, Twigg said, but some stopped in.

“People have been popping in and doing lots of little plant gifties,” Twigg said.

Her customers talked about how excited they were for a less-restricted holiday season, she said.

“People are definitely more excited to be going around and not being at home,” Twigg said. “I feel like people are feeling festive.”

Festivities were subdued at GraphTex and Geared-2-Sports on Court St.

“The people shopping were just poking around,” said manager Zack McMullen. “With all the online shopping, and everything we’re going through, it’s going to be a rough year.”

COVID-19 led to restrictions last year on the in-person holiday shopping small stores rely on and worries over the new omicron virus variant, and potential economic impacts, sent shivers through stock markets Friday.

There were a couple of shoppers at Lot 1 vintage clothing store Saturday afternoon.

“I get out to relieve tension,” said Bette L. Beebee-Caza, adding she was shopping for her family.

It was slow at Robinson’s Family Jewelers on Groton Avenue, too.

The shoppers who did come in looked for items that weren’t included in the holiday sale, such as engagement rings, said Amanda Conrad, the store’s vice president of operations.

“Those are always big for Christmas,” Conrad said. “So, people are thinking ahead this year, which is good.”

Conrad said her customers also seemed happy to shop in-person.

“I think that a lot of our customers are happy to come in and see someone face to face,” she said. “Some things you just can’t do online.”