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Nearly 50 mountaintop businesses, restaurants and other enterprises teamed up Saturday to support the local economy through Small Business Saturday.
“The local chambers of commerce did just a fantastic job bringing everybody together for this,” Windham shop owner Bill Shaw said.
Shaw, along with wife Colleen Rifkind, owns Tiger Lily Jewelers on Route 23 in the village of Windham. More than 25 other Windham establishments participated in Saturday’s event.
“The chambers are trying to get people to shop at all the local stores on the mountaintop, from here over to Hunter and Tannersville,” Shaw said.
As part of the event, shoppers at local businesses received an entry form for a raffle drawing. On the form was a list of each participating shop and restaurant. To enter the raffle, an entrant needed to simply visit five of the establishments on the list, and get the signature of the shop owner. No purchases were necessary to enter the raffle.
“Our goal was for people to visit shops on the mountaintop they haven’t been to before,” Windham Chamber of Commerce board member Nilda Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez owns Miraluz Candles, a candle and artisan crafts shop in the village of Windham. Her shop features the work of more than 40 artisans from the Catskills, including a range of candles handmade by Rodriguez herself.
“I make luminary candles,” she said. “I can dry flowers or other things and cover them in wax. It creates a beautiful candle, and all you need to do is change the candle which burns inside it.”
Rodriguez said she often makes candles to commemorate special events by preserving flowers from weddings or funerals in the wax, essentially offering the flowers an eternal preservation. East Jewett resident George Hewitt visited Miraluz Candles on Saturday, and said shopping local was a priority for him.
“You can get unique and beautifully crafted items,” Hewitt said. “It’s not just something made in China.”
Elsewhere in Greene County, small businesses flourished. Catskill Village Trustee Vinny Seeley said small businesses have been a key part of the ongoing commercial revival in the village.
“People like to shop here now. This is a place for people to come to shop, and it wasn’t that way 10 to 12 years ago,” Seeley said. “It’s a testament to our small businesses that we have a thriving Main Street again.”
Coxsackie bakery owner Domenick Costanzo said while Saturday was a slow day for his business, he has felt the support of small business in the community for quite a while.
“This was the best Thanksgiving we have had here,” Costanzo said about his business, The Little Bake Shop on Route 385 in the village of Coxsackie. Costanzo and his wife Jill opened The Little Bake Shop in October 2013, and are enjoying their most prosperous holiday season since the shop’s inception.
“We have a few people who have already ordered their Christmas items,” Jill Costanzo said.
Domenick Costanzo, a self-trained baker with a knack for food science, has developed many of the recipes for items he serves, while others he inherits from friends, colleagues and even customers.
“I’ve had customers come in and give me recipes. I love experimenting developing recipes,” he said.
Costanzo’s most popular item is a cream puff, a creamy confection with copious quantities of sweet cream crammed inside a puff pastry and topped with semisweet chocolate.
“I don’t know why they’re so popular, but people seem to love them,” he said.
Catskill Village President Heather Bagshaw said the ultimate benefit of shopping at local small businesses was apparent on the streets of Catskill and other Greene County towns every day.
“The money stays local, and people go around and spend with local shops and everyone benefits from it,” she said.
Rodriguez echoed Bagshaw’s sentiments.
“It’s all about keeping the money right here in the community,” Rodriguez said.