The Telegram
  • Big push for small businesses

  • Throughout the state and the nation, Chambers of Commerce and business organizations celebrate, honor and promote small businesses through small business weeks or days.

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  • The ding of the door bell filters into the kitchen of a small bakery situated in this quaint village.
    In the back of the Cakery Café, co-owner Lynn Burkdorf fashions a salad complete with leafy greens, mandarin oranges, cranberries and Asiago cheese.
    “We just started our spring/summer menu,” she said as she closes the box. “They're just starting to slowly learn about it.”
    A sign outside of the business alerts customers of the new menu, which Burkdorf said features salads, along with the usual cakes and pastries — the crux of the business.
    “A lot (of our business) we found out is word of mouth and repeat customers,” Burkdorf said, but she's hoping participating in Herkimer County Chamber of Commerce's Small Business Week May 19-25 will draw new customers to her establishment, which opened late last year.
    Throughout the state and the nation, Chambers of Commerce and business organizations celebrate, honor and promote small businesses through small business weeks or days.
    During last year's Small Business Saturday — which began in 2010 and takes place the Saturday after Thanksgiving — U.S. consumers spent $5.5 billion at small businesses, American Express spokesman Scott Krugman said.
    He said no statistics were kept in the two prior years.
    Of the tens of millions of Americans familiar with the event, 67 percent planned to “shop small” last year, according to the Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey. About 44 percent of those surveyed said they shopped small in 2011.
    In Dolgeville, Burkdorf said throughout Small Business Week, she'll be offering buy one bakery item and get another free.
    Herkimer County's Chamber Executive Director John Scarano said it will be hosting a series of events — from a small business promotional day to business education seminars.
    “We're trying to recognize them and trying to get people to come in, and the small business owner can take the lead from there,” he said.
    At the Small Business Development Center at University of Albany, Director Bill Brigham said more could be done.
    “When I think of a great way of promoting small business, I always think of Small Business Saturday around Christmastime,” he said. “Do something to declare a week to recognize and support our small businesses.”
    The Mohawk Valley Chamber of Commerce has gone beyond the simple promotional aspect of Small Business Week with cash mobs.
    Executive Director Pam Matt said on May 21 and 22, it will be inviting people to participate in cash mobs throughout Oneida County.
    “The philosophy is to cash mob the small business establishment — come in a mob and spend $10 to $20,” she said. “We want everybody in the community to come to these mobs and support the businesses.”
    Chester's Flowers in Utica — in business for 75 years — was one of the first establishments to experience a cash mob this year. While it wasn't during Small Business Week, the premise was the same.
    Page 2 of 2 - Bill Waszkiewicz, one of the business's owners, said the cash mob got Chester's name out there.
    “There were a few people who were in here that have never been in here before, so we got new customers,” he said. “The majority of our business comes from repeat customers.”
    The events also place emphasis on the importance of the local establishments.
    “I think it's important for the average person to realize the value of the locally owned business,” Waszkiewicz said. “They have some character compared to a national chain store, which is all the same no matter where you go.”