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Businesses helping businesses during this difficult time

15 Jan

A ripple of kindness is quietly spreading through the Webster community.

It’s called Webster Business Pay it Forward, an effort begun by businesses almost a year ago to help their fellow small business owners weather the Covid economy.

I first heard about the program from one of my readers (thanks, Nancy!) who saw a Facebook post from Ric Thomann of Webster Interiors. Ric had purchased ten gift cards and long-stemmed roses from Kittelberger Florist, which were to be given out free to the first ten customers who visited Kittelberger and mentioned the program. Not only did the gift card purchase benefit Kittelberger, chances were good the patrons who used them would be spending even more than that in the store.

The roses were just an extra special touch.

Ric was able to give me a little background, particularly that the movement was spearheaded locally by Dr. Joe Manza of Wellness For You NOW Chiropractic on North Ave.

Ric wrote,

During the earlier stages of Covid, Joe went out to a few businesses and pre-paid for some products from the Webster businesses and then splashed what he did on his and Webster Facebook group pages to encourage the community to take advantage of his generosity and hopefully bring additional awareness and customers to those businesses.

The Webster BID, the Village of Webster’s business association, got wind of the idea and started spreading it through the village, benefiting almost a dozen small businesses to date.

Dr. Joe, however, refuses to take credit for the original idea, saying that the concept began with a business growth group he belongs to called Black Diamond Club. He started the ball rolling “early on in the apocalypse” by opening a tab at the Lake Road Country Store for $150 worth of fish frys for anyone who had lost work and needed a hot meal.

He wrote,

Not too long after I posted this offer on Facebook, a high school friend of mine who operates a very small musical instrument repair business jumped in and added to my tab. That made my heart melt! Later on, I did another one at Knucklehead Brewing. I bought ten growlers for any first responders, nurses, fire, police … as a thank you for their hard work.

And he didn’t stop there, paying it forward to Performance Hobby, The Goodie Shoppe, Kiss Me Cookie and The North Bee. Come February, he’s planning to do it again, to benefit another local business, Barbells & Body Fuel.

The big idea is that it is absolutely necessary to support our community in as many ways as possible. Too many people have been negatively impacted by the virus and the lockdown. Job loss, reduced incomes, business closings, depression, and so forth have become the side effects of this situation.

I have heard personally that this little initiative has helped so many people and businesses which makes me hope others are inspired to contribute to the cause, just like my friend did by adding to my tab. If we can come together to serve our community by giving just a little bit more or extra – if/when possible – so that life is a little less of a struggle and a bit brighter for those in need then we are all better off.

The Webster Business Pay it Forward initiative is still going on. The wave of kindness continues to spread, so you’ll want to keep an eye out for it, for your opportunity to help support our local businesses.

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The village sparkles this time of year

21 Dec

It was a beautiful night for a walk last night, so in between football games, my husband and I extracted ourselves from the couch and wandered down into the village to check out the sights.

I love how Webster looks at holiday time. It just sparkles from end to end, making an already charming village look even more so. If you haven’t walked along Main Street after dark recently, you owe it to yourself to do so; it will help brighten what for most of us is a pretty bleak holiday season.

But there’s also another reason to make the trip: many of the local merchants are participating in a Christmas Decorating Contest. Community members are invited to drive or walk through the village to check out all the decorations, then go online to the BID website to vote for the most colorful, the most creative and the one which most embraces the spirit of the season. You can also see photos of the entries on the BID website.

Here are several photos I took on our walk.

And here’s a quick note about a Webster Public Library program which the whole family will enjoy.

It’s a “Holiday Storytime Extravaganza,” a staff-wide holiday storytime special. It premieres Monday night at 7 p.m. on YouTube. Click here to join the fun.

This is the first time the library has done anything like this, so it should be filled with a lot of surprises. Get your kids in their PJs, boot up the laptop, and tune in.

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Village of Webster hosts three fun holiday contests

9 Dec

The Village of Webster is doing its best to put some sparkle and fun into this very unusual holiday season.

In the next few weeks, the Webster Business Improvement District (BID) will host three contests designed to get community members out and about and exploring the village.

The first, a Gingerbread House Contest, is going on right now through Dec. 12. Six village businesses have created some very fanciful gingerbread houses. Community members can see each one at the participating business or online at websterbid.com and vote for their favorites. Three prizes will be awarded for Most Creative, Best Decorated and Most Traditional.

The participating businesses include:

  • Bernardi & Company CPAs, 40 Barrett Dr.
  • Beyond Cuts Salon, 33 North Ave.
  • Finn’s Automotive, 45 E. Main
  • Martino’s Pizza, 160 W. Main
  • Xceed Credit Union, 189 W. Main
  • Maplewood Nursing Home (must be viewed online)

This contest ends on Dec. 12, so get your votes in soon.

And by the way, get together with your family and come up with your own gingerbread house creation. Take a photo and email it to Elena@websterbid.com, and you could win a prize, too!

Next is the Snowman Scavenger Hunt, which runs for one week from Dec. 13 to 19.

The kids are especially going to like this one. Each participating businesses will hang a snowman poster inside the store or in the window, and each poster will have a different word on it. Players need to collect all the words to reveal a secret phrase. There will be 15 snowmen in all, and hints for where to find them will be posted on the BID website. Participants are also encouraged to take a creative picture with each snowman.

The top two puzzle solvers and the most creative photo with a snowman will each win a prize.

Finally, the week before Christmas, make sure to get downtown to see the village sparkle as shop owners decorate their windows and doors for the BID’s Window Display Contest. Community members can vote online for the Most Creative, the Most Colorful and the best Spirit of the Season.

For more information about all these upcoming holiday events, visit the BID website.

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Here’s a shopping challenge for you

27 Nov

Perhaps it’s just the fact that “Black Friday” has turned into “Black Friday Week” because people are spending more time at home and shopping online, but it seems to me that this year’s Black Friday craziness has been a little muted.

I’d like to encourage everyone to not let that happen to Small Business Saturday, which happens tomorrow, Nov. 28.

Our small business owners need our support more than ever this year help them survive this pandemic. Especially if we’re headed to an orange designation which might throw us back into another round of retail restrictions.

So I propose this challenge: sometime this holiday season, make a commitment to purchasing at least one gift at a small business. Even if (or especially if) you just need stocking presents, step into a small shop you’ve never been in before and I guarantee you’ll find something unique and perfect.

The North Bee, for example, at 27 North Ave. This is one of my favorite shops in the village, because I can always find something fun and different for office gifts or stockings.

The North Bee is packed with products from the hive, but goes far beyond just honey. (But if you or someone you love fancies honey, there are countless varieties here.) You have to check out her beeswax Christmas ornament tree, and beeswax statuettes for example. There are candies and even soft drinks, all honeybee-based. And Amy has really begun to focus her product line on health and wellness, like natural elderberry syrup and propolis products.

The North Bee has just celebrated its second anniversary, so Amy must be doing something right.

Another one of my favorite shops is The Village Quilt Shoppe at 21 E. Main. I’m not a quilter, but I like to stop in here occasionally just to say hi to the owners, Vanetta and Monique, who are two of the nicest people I have ever met. They’ve got all sorts of sales going on right now and a chance to win a gift raffle.

This is the perfect place to find a gift — or a gift card — for that quilter on your list.

And of course I can’t sing the praises of Lala of Webster enough. This adorable shop at 38 E. Main is packed with unique and creative gifts and is a must see for anyone shopping in the village. Owner Lisa Scholnski always has something new up her sleeve. Stay tuned for news soon of a special offering for seniors that’s in the works.

These three are just my favorite village shops, but li’l old Webster has so much to offer. Here are a few highlights:

  • Know someone who would rather read than do just about anything else? Grab a gift certificate from Yesterday’s Muse booksellers, 32 W. Main.
  • Performance Hobbies, 15 W. Main, is a hobbyist’s paradise.
  • How about supporting the musician in your family with something from The Music Store, 18 E. Main?
  • Grab some beautiful hand-made holiday chocolates at The Goodie Shoppe, 83 North Ave.
  • Nest Things at 11 E. Main is kind of like an upscale Grandma’s attic, packed with “carefully rechosen items” for the home, mother-to-be, and children. Lots of surprises in here.
  • Brighten up your holiday table and home with some flowers and wreaths from Kittleberger’s Florist, 263 North Ave.

And don’t forget to save some time to enjoy a snack and beverage at one of the village’s restaurants and pubs. You should definitely stop into Barry’s Old School Irish just to see the lights they’ve strung.

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Own a business? Join Webster’s Holiday Parade of Lights!

18 Nov

Have you heard about this year’s reimagined Parade of Lights, happening Saturday Dec. 5?

This very popular event, always the highlight of the Village of Webster’s White Christmas, was cancelled because of COVID restrictions. But it’s back — albeit a little different.  

Normally, fire trucks, community and business floats, and marching bands, all covered in twinkling holiday lights, parade down Main St. past thousands of spectators. This year, the trucks and floats will be stationary, and spectators will drive past them, enjoying the lights and music from the safety and warmth of their own cars.  

More than 1,500 cars have already registered to drive through and enjoy the display. Now it’s time for more businesses and community agencies to jump on board. 

As an exhibitor, you’ll be assigned a spot where you can park your vehicle for the entire parade, where upwards of 2,000 cars will drive past to see your holiday lights display and business information. (At an average of four people per car, that’s 8,000 people.) Plus, every participating business can provide marketing material for a VIP goodie bag which will be safely handed out to spectator vehicles as they enter the parade route. 

This is an outstanding opportunity to reach out to thousands of new and existing customers, and remind everyone that you’re still in business. So get registered, grab some holiday lights, and plan to have some fun! 

The Village of Webster Holiday Parade of Lights is scheduled for Saturday Dec. 5 from 3 to 8 p.m. on San Jose Dr. rain or shine. Participation is free, but you’ll need to register so organizers know how many vehicles to expect. For more information and to register, email 2020websterparadeoflights@neqals.orgRegistration is required by Nov. 25. 

You can also find more information about the event at the 2020 Webster Parade of Lights Facebook page.

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A few pre-holiday thoughts

14 Nov

There’s Christmas music on the radio, 24/7. I believe it’s been running on not just one, but TWO stations for a few weeks now.

Now, I like Christmas music as much as the next guy, and I’ve never had any issue with radio stations jumping the gun somewhat and starting it up way early. (Although this year I think it was earlier than normal, almost like the two stations were in a race to see who could roll it out first.) And I gotta say, I think this year more than any other, we really need some jingle and joy in our lives. So you’ll find me switching on the radio in the car more often these days, searching out some Bing Crosby.

But what I DO take issue with is that these two stations apparently have not changed up their holiday music collection in five years or more.

There are thousands of holiday tunes out there. PLEASE update your repertoire. We don’t need to hear “Santa Baby” played every hour on the hour. (But you can work in Feliz Navidad more often if you want.)

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Here’s a quick reminder that the village is open for business.

I did some early Christmas shopping today, at two of my favorite village shops, Lala of Webster and the Village Quilt Shoppe, both on East Main St. When I walked into LaLa, I was delighted to see a long line of customers at the register (all properly distancing) and probably ten more still shopping.

It was wonderful to see that LaLa’s business is going so well, and more to the point, that so many new people have come to discover this unique store. It seeme like every time I walk in, I hear a first-timer ooh and aah with delight as they explore the three floors. As for me, I’ve been in lots of times but go back frequently because owner Lisa Schlonski keeps adding new merchandise.

I also popped into the Village Quilt Shoppe across the street. I’m not a quilter, but I know that they’re going to be selling off many of their samples and I really want to get my hands on one of the market bags. That sale actually starts on the 20th, so I will be back.

If you haven’t been in either of these shops before, remember that the Saturday after Thankgiving is Small Business Saturday. That would be a great opportunity to check them out, and many of the other small businesses we have here in town.

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Another Webster business lands on its feet

2 Nov

In the middle of this awful pandemic and the negative effect it’s had on businesses, there have been a few success stories.

Notably, LaLa of Webster has doubled in size; The Filling Station created a beautiful new patio dining space; Amy Stringer at The North Bee is expanding her inventory and devoting more time to the shop; and the Village Quilt Shoppe even survived a mini-flood before triumphantly celebrating its first anniversary.

Today I add another business to that list, Strike Back Martial Arts.

Back in July, Dave Nicchitta and Mike Palmer, owners of Strike Back Martial Arts jujitsu dojo on East Main St., officially closed their studio. The financial difficulties presented by the pandemic were too much to overcome.

I was especially saddened by the news because I’d been a longtime volunteer in a few of their classes. But I was also sad because the classes Strike Back offered — for children and young adults with autism and Down syndrome — were unique, and a valuable resource for these communities.  

But I’m pleased to report that Strike Back Martial Arts has started offering those classes again — just not in Webster.

Strike Back Martial Arts has partnered with the Irondequoit Recreation Department to start offering classes this Saturday at the Recreation Center on Pinegrove Ave.

All of the adaptive classes will be returning: Jujitsu Buddies for children with autism, No Gi Jujitsu for teens and tweens on the autism spectrum, and Strike Back Fitness for kids and teens with Down Syndrome. The Junior Jujitsu class will also be held again, for students looking for a more traditional jujitsu program. All classes will be open to the general public.

There are a lot of benefits to partnering with the Irondequoit Recreation Department, which is providing equipment and adminstration support. But more importantly, the Rec will be advertising the classes to a larger audience, which means that more children and their families will be able to take advantage of these outstanding programs.

Junior Jujitsu and Jujitsu Buddies are Saturday mornings beginning Nov. 7. No Gi Jujitsu and Strike Back Fitness take place Tuesday evenings beginning Nov. 10. For more information visit the Strike Back Martial Arts webite, call (585) 627-3869 or email strikebackmartialarts@gmail.com.

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Great things are happening at Knucklehead

31 Oct
An image captured from Knucklehead’s video of the new beer garden

It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged about my friends at Knucklehead Craft Brewing. And boy, do I have a lot to tell you.

It’s been perhaps two months since I was last at Knucklehead. My husband and I enjoyed a great dinner and a few pints outside at a picnic table, in a spacious area at the side of the pub destined to become a beer garden.

Since then, the beer garden has been completed, and it’s a thing of beauty. Owner Len Dummer posted a video on Knucklehead’s Facebook page a few days ago which just blew my mind.

The new space is about 1200 square feet, with very handsome tiling, stonework and fencing, with plenty of room for three or four tables, even in these days of social distancing. There’s a gorgeous waterfall feature and a large fire pit with room for another eight to ten patrons.

But there’s more! For starters, Knucklehead is just wrapping up installation of a $90,000 commercial kitchen. The very talented Chef Josh has been needing this for a long time and it will certainly help showcase his culinary skills. It should be completed in the next few weeks.

New lighting has been installed in front and in back, and come November, a new retaining wall will be put in, further expanding the pub’s parking options. Plus, both the interior and exterior have been painted.

So basically, if you haven’t been to Knucklehead lately, you’re in for a big surprise. But remember, even if things a look a little different, you’re going to find the same great people, welcoming atmosphere and outstanding brews that you’ve come to expect.

Knucklehead Craft Brewing is located at 426 Ridge Rd. in West Webster, at the corner of Bay Rd.

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More great Webster Village business news

11 Oct

It’s been a long time coming, but Yesterday’s Muse books is finally reopening. However, they’re counting on their loyal customers to follow what have become some normal COVID guidelines, of course.

Here’s the email I got from owner Jonathan Smalter:

We are excited to announce that, beginning Monday October 12th, our shop will officially reopen to the public during our usual business hours! ALL shoppers MUST wear a mask; NO EXCEPTIONS. If you are unable to wear a mask, please shop with us online. Our full stock is available to search and browse on our website, and orders can be shipped to you, or retrieved via curbside pickup.

Please continue to practice social distancing while shopping with us. The floor is marked with arrows encouraging one-way traffic flow, and markers to denote appropriate social distancing positions in high traffic areas. In addition, hand sanitizer is available at the checkout counter, and we encourage you to wash your hands in our public restroom upon your arrival and your departure.

BOOK BUYING SERVICES BY APPOINTMENT ONLY UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. Please continue to expect some delays for book buying and special orders. One third of our staff is still working from home, and new protocols we have in place for keeping you safe do take some time each day to implement. You can call us at 585-265-9295 or email us at yesterdays.muse@gmail.com. If we are not available when you call, please provide a detailed message and we will get you in the queue to reply to your inquiry. Thank you for your patience and continued support.

While this pandemic has affected how we are able to do business, it has not impacted us getting our hands on loads of new acquisitions! We have been hard at work during these past months cataloging our fingers off. So what are you waiting for? Come on in or shop with us online and see what’s new! And remember, you can still order new books and pre-order upcoming releases on our Bookshop page.

Even if you’re not a bibliophile, if you’re wandering by Yesterday’s Muse in the next several days, pop in just to say hi and welcome back. We all need to support our local businesses during these trying times, even if it’s just saying “we missed you.” 

Yesterday’s Muse is located at 32 W. Main St., next door to the Village offices. 

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The North Bee is still going strong — and getting better

4 Oct

I got a wonderful email the other day from another local business owner who has not only survived this current epidemic, but is doing her best to come out stronger.

Amy Stringer, owner of The North Bee on North Ave. in the village, told me that she has decided to quit her day job so she can focus her efforts on what is really her passion, her unique gift shop, The North Bee.

What makes The North Bee so unique is that most of the items Amy features are based on honey and bees. That includes more than 30 varieties of honey, beeswax products and other wellness products from the hive.

But Amy has been branching out of late and is introducing some delicuous new items to her store. She writes,

Over the summer we built a commercial kitchen on our property and I have been making and selling elderberry syrup at the store. I now have a fridge you can help yourself to your own syrup, or Beehive Beverage, a honey based soda beverage.

She’s also lots of new products and varieties of honey.

Amy says she offers “handcrafted goodness with a healthy dose of wellness,” which describes her products as well as the precautions she has taken during the COVID crisis.

Windows are open, the air filter running when they are closed, a self-serve honey tasting table is now available on request, sanitizer is available and high touch-surfaces are frequently wiped down. The children’s room is open and sanitized as needed.

One of the best bits of news is that Amy is expanding her hours. The North Bee is now open Tuesday 4 to 7 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday 10 to 4, Friday 10 to 2 and Saturday 10 to 3. She’s located at 27 North Avenue, across the street from Veteran’s Park and the gazebo. She offers local delivery, curbside pickup and shipping. You can shop in store or online at on her website.

She’s coming up on her second anniversary, by the way, which is quite an accomplishment, Make sure to tell her congratulations when you’re in there shopping!

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email me  at missyblog@gmail.com“Like” this blog on Facebook and follow me on Twitter.

You can also get email notifications every time I post a new blog by using the “Follow Me” link on the right side of this page.