Owners Use Loyalty, Tradition To Keep Shoppers Coming Back

Bill Thomas, co-owner of Biodome Project, shows off a shirt available for purchase in his store reading, “Shop Local Everything.” It was a fitting motto for the day being Small Business Saturday. P-J photo by Katrina Fuller
Jordan Yeversky searches through suit jackets Saturday at Lander’s Men’s Store in Jamestown. Yeversky said shopping locally is a good way to “always remember where you come from and to help these businesses out.” P-J photo by Eric Tichy

Just in time to kick-off the holiday season, Small Business Saturday swept through downtown Jamestown like Christmas Spirit.

In a big way, local shops and businesses opened their doors and welcomed the crowds for a very special, locally-centered shopping excursion. From specialty shops and clothing stores to favorite local eateries, several area businesses participated in Small Businesses Saturday this weekend.

Bill Thomas, Biodome Project co-owner, said the shop was filled with customers throughout the day.

“We do good during the year, and from Thanksgiving to Christmas, we do great,” Thomas said. “People are really supportive, (and) we’ve been here a couple years, so people are catching on that we’re here. People really like Christmas shopping downtown.”

He said this is the third year the BioDome Project is open for the holidays, and he wouldn’t have it any other way. Overall, he said people like to feel like they are supporting local businesses and artisans.

“Not just us, but all our vendors who are each their own local small business,” Thomas said. “You also see people run into their friends and family — that’s what it was always like and that’s what Christmas shopping downtown in a small town like this was like. That’s a part of the holiday spirit, I think, and it’s cool to see it happen.”

He said he also saw some of his own family members from near and far downtown shopping as part of Small Business Saturday as well. He said during the holidays, the store becomes a community hub in a way.

“We intended for that from the beginning, but it makes me happy to see it happening,” Thomas said. “Each different vendor that comes in has their own little network of friends and family, so when they come into sell their stuff, it’s another group of people who maybe haven’t been into the store who they’ll bring into the shop. It works out really good, and the longer we’re here and the more vendors we bring in, the better it works.”

The BioDome Project is also participating in the Shop Small Win Big 2016 contest being held by the Jamestown Renaissance Corporation, he added. Those who spend $10 or more in a participating local shop or restaurant between now and Monday, Dec. 19, will be able to enter the drawing to win a third- or second-place prize of a 32-gigabyte Apple iPad mini with Wi-Fi or the grand prize of a 50 inch 1080p Vizio LED Smart TV. The winners of the contest will be announced on Dec. 22.

Elsewhere, Ann and Cliff Powers have co-owned Lander’s Men’s Store, located on North Main Street in the city, for 20 years. They noted they have a core group of customers, many of whom they know on a first name basis.

“We’re at the stage where we have a good customer base who come back,” said Ann Powers.

Cliff Powers said more often than not he knows the shopper who enter his store, and said promotions such as Small Business Saturday is just another way to remind potential customers there are more options to big box stores.

“I like to talk to the person when they come in and just joke around,” he said.

Mayor Samuel Teresi offered a proclamation declaring Saturday as “Small Business Saturday in Jamestown.”

“Now, therefore, I, Samuel Teresi, Mayor of the City of Jamestown, New York, do hereby proclaim Saturday, November 26, 2016, as Small Business Saturday in the city of Jamestown and urge all residents across the greater Jamestown area to support small businesses not only on Small Business Saturday but throughout the year,” the proclamation read.

New York State officials also supported Small Business Saturday.

“Small businesses help to diversify and strengthen local economies and with 98 percent of New York State businesses employing fewer than 100 workers, they are critical to the success of communities throughout the state,” said Howard Zemsky, Empire State Development president, CEO and commissioner.

Roberta Reardon, Department of Labor Commissioner, said small businesses are the “backbone of New York’s economy.”

“Small businesses employ our neighbors, family and friends and choosing to buy local helps keep communities strong,” Reardon said. “I join Governor Cuomo and Commissioner Zemsky in urging all New Yorkers to get out and support their local small businesses not only this Saturday, but every day.”

According to the Governor’s office, the small business sector accounts for 98 percent of all businesses in the state and employs more than 40 percent of New York’s private sector workforce. New York state has more than 528,000 small business proprietors.