January 27, 2022

Still going strong

Post-holiday dry spell yet to arrive for local business

Valerie Puma/staff reporter

Rob Garrison, manager of Homer Men and Boys store, shows off the store’s best-seller — work and winter boots. The weeks following Christmas can often be a slow time for small businesses, but fall and winter are the store’s most popular times, Garrison said.

Gift cards and the allure of after- Christmas sales brought Kathy Roe and her daughter Abigail to Main Street in Homer on Tuesday from Hallstead, Pennsylvania — 60 miles away.

Carrying a pile of clothing, Kathy Roe walked up to the cashier at Homer Men and Boys.

“We were on our way to Skaneateles, and my husband had actually stopped in here and got me new boots for Christmas, so we wanted to look at some other things, too,” she said.

The mother-daughter duo were excited to spend the day traveling and shopping their way through Central New York while supporting small businesses that may have feared a post-Christmas dry season.

Now, mom’s got the winter clothes and accessories to complete the outfit, plus a few garments for an upcoming gift.

“My nephew’s birthday is in January, and my husband said this is an awesome store so we knew we wanted to stop in and check it out,” Kathy Roe said.

Store manager Rob Garrison said business has been great this winter, and dozens of customers filtered in and out of the store Tuesday.

“We’ve been very busy, we had an excellent Christmas season starting right before Black Friday and carrying right on through December,” he said. “We chose to freeze our prices through the first quarter of the year, to give our customers the best value we can, because we know this area is price sensitive.”

Garrison said the store prepared for the supply chain delays by ordering early and stocking up on inventory — a foresight he’s grateful for since customers, like the Roes, were visiting from more than 60 miles away.

“We pride ourselves on our service here — when people walk through the door, we know we can take care of them and they’ll continue to come back,” Garrison said. “We just want to thank our customers for shopping with us since 1951 and being so loyal. We really appreciate them.”

By shopping locally, customers can directly add to the economy, said Cortland Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Bob Haight.

“At a small business, the owner is right there on the premises — there is no corporate headquarters,” Haight said. “The money you spend goes right into the owner’s hands, who then pays his own employees who are neighbors that are going to turn around and spend that money locally in our neighborhood.”

Haight said he hopes customers keep small businesses in mind even after the holiday season comes to an end.

“In some cases they’re new and in other cases they’ve been with us for decades,” Haight said. “There’s a good reason why they’ve been able to do that — because they’re treating customers well and selling good products at good prices.”

Two doors down from Homer Men and Boys, Bev & Co. staff are adding 50% off discounts to Christmas merchandise and preparing for promotional events.

“Business has been wonderful,” said owner Renee Neiderman. “People have been supporting us locally and we couldn’t be happier. We’re hoping COVID allows us to get back into hosting instore events like we used to. We’re watching what’s happening there, but we’ll have special things going on sale soon.”

Before the pandemic, Bev & Co. organized ladies’ sip-and-shop events, trunk shows and in-store fashion shows.

“It’s kind of scary for me when I look around and see so many small businesses are going out of business recently,” Neiderman said. “It’s nice having these little stores that you can go shopping in — you can touch and feel the clothes, try things on — but especially supporting locally.”