Tag Archives: Small business

An update on Bella’s Bumbas

20 Feb
A peek inside the Bella’s Bumbas workshop, where new chairs await shipping.

It’s been a while since we last visited Bella’s Bumbas. This is the incredible Webster-based grassroots organization which for almost four years has been improving the lives of children with mobility issues, not just here in town, but all over the globe. But rest assured, they’re still going strong and recently received some national attention.

Bella’s Bumbas is a non-profit organization run by Webster residents Marty Parzynski and Rebecca Orr, dedicated to building miniature wheelchairs for children with a wide variety of mobility issues. To date they’ve shipped more than 1600 chairs to children in 30 countries, recently adding Bangkok, Thailand, and Kuwait to the list, and they often adapt the chairs for each child’s individual needs.

As with most businesses, COVID has presented some challenges to their operation. But the pandemic hasn’t erased the need for these special chairs, so Rebecca and Marty remain dedicated to their cause, and continue to expand their services as much and as often as they can. All while being part-time caregivers for five of their grandchildren who are only attending school half-days.

I received this update from Rebecca the other day:

What a crazy year it has been thru Covid. We miss those of our volunteers that are social distancing for safety, and look forward to the whole team being together again. We’ve had some of our volunteers (Tom, Ron and George) rotate times and days to keep “bodies” at a minimum in the shop.

We’ve been shipping a few chairs directly to other countries (at great expense but worth the SMILES ) … we’ve been very blessed with the donations still coming in, and new contacts. We are well over 1600 chairs and have some amazing new businesses helping us in various ways making some of our specialized parts.

They’ve also recently partnered with Indiana-based Hearts in Motion, who will be helping them deliver several chairs to Guatemala.

Also, in a very exciting recent development, Bella’s Bumbas has been prominently featured in an article published this month in Brain and Life magazine, an official publication of the American Academy of Neurology. The article addresses how mobility devices, like the Bumba chairs, can benefit children’s brain health.

This is not news for anyone who’s taken the time to view the videos of smiling, mobile children on Bella’s Bumbas Facebook page. But it’s nice to see that confirmed by such as well-respected national publication.

How you can help

Bella’s Bumbas continues to ask parents to pay for shipping, but that’s difficult for some families these days. Plus. shipping internationally is very expensive, and some of those costs often have to be covered. So cash donations would be gratefully accepted, and would also help purchase parts which are not donated by local businesses.

If you’d like to help out, visit their GoFundMe page, where you can also read more about their background and continued efforts.  

They could also use boxes. The perfect sizes are 50 cm. x 45 cm. x 28 cm. (Rebecca uses two of these for the small chairs); 28″ x 20″ x 14″, and 29″ x 14″ x 24″ are great for the large chairs. If you’re getting Amazon deliveries regularly, you might also have the boxes they need; the ones that say P5 on the bottom are perfect (25.75″ x 20.75″ x 16.5″).

So if you have any boxes that are the right size, and would like to donate them, please connect connect with Marty and Rebecca through the Bella’s Bumbas Facebook page or email bellasbumbas@gmail.com

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Meet the new Cobblestone on Main restaurant, opening soon

30 Jan

The Village of Webster’s newest restaurant — Cobblestone on Main — will be opening soon, and I know I’m not the only one excited about it. 

Judging from the conversations I’ve been hearing from friends and on social media, a lot of people have been keeping an eye on the historic cobblestone building at 109 West Main St. as it’s been renovated over the last many months. The main rumors I heard swirling around was that it was going to be a brewpub, or maybe a high-end restaurant. Turns out, it’s neither — but a little of both.  

When The Cobblestone on Main opens several weeks from now, patrons will find a comfortable, reasonably-priced restaurant for those looking for a hearty lunch or dinner, and a dozen taps behind the long bar, hosting several local and regional brews. 

Dan, Sarah and Lynne Bresnahan

The Cobblestone is the culmination of a dream for Dan Bresnahan and his daughter Sarah, who will be teaming up to run the new establishment. Together with Dan’s wife Lynne, the Bresnahans, who are long-time Webster residents, are excited to bring their family-run restaurant to the village they call home. 

Their journey began a little over a year ago, when Dan and Sarah happened to drive by the historic old cobblestone. Greg Chambery, owner of The Maplewood nursing home, owned that building as well and had already begun renovations. It got them thinking about their longtime dream of opening a restaurant. 

“We had seen what was happening on the east side of the building with the new porch and roof line,” Dan said. “I said to Sarah, if we’re thinking of doing this, that’s the kind of place we need to find.”

It turned out that Sarah had grown up with Chambery’s daughter. Fate clearly had a plan for them. So last January, Dan met with Chambery and a deal was struck. 

And then Covid hit. 

Chambery had made significant improvements to the outside of the building, but had stripped the inside down to studs and bare stone. There was an amazing amount of work to do before the Bresnahans could open their doors to the public. But thanks to the pandemic, they couldn’t even begin their renovations until July. 

Instead of getting discouraged, they chose to look on the bright side.  

“That time period from early spring till July really provided us with the opportunity to think through logistics for such an old building,” Dan said. “What are all the things we needed to do to accommodate the public?”

When the pandemic didn’t relent over the summer, they had to keep moving their projected opening date back beyond the holidays and into the new year. Still, that was OK, Sarah explained. 

“As horrible as the timing of it was, I feel like waiting and doing it the right way and taking our time to think through systems and processes to keep people safe” was important, she said. “It’s something we needed to think about anyway. It made us think through keeping things clean and doing it the right way.”

The current plan is to finally open the first week of March.  

When everything is in place, Cobblestone on Main will feature a large main dining room door, with booths along the wall, several high-top tables in the middle and a farm table in the front window. Towards the back of the building is a second, smaller dining room with more farm tables, and in the basement, two more dining rooms which can double as private party rooms. Come this spring, they hope to add a fenced-in patio for outside dining.

In a nod to the building’s early-19th century history, the Bresnahans tried to emulate as much of the original structure as they could, including leaving some exposed beams. The decor is rustic and weathered, or as Dan characterized it, “homey.”

“Rather than taking it and making it into an industrial-themed restaurant which I think a lot of people are going towards, it’s a cobblestone building that feels very homey,” he said. “So (we’re) bringing that to the inside and making you feel like you’re going home to have dinner rather than feel like you’re going out to a restaurant.”

The menu will feature American classics with locally-sourced ingredients whenever possible. And even though there’s a bar, Dan said, the focus will always be on the food and the experience.

The Webster community is clearly looking forward to welcoming Cobblestone on Main to the village. That was especially illustrated during the holidays when they promoted gift certificates.

Dan remembered,

A week or so before Christmas we posted that we would have gift certificates available because we had a number of people inquire. We didn’t even have a jar of pickles in the place. I said to Sarah, I kind of feel guilty selling a gift card. But we put it on Facebook and the community support blew us away. It was a regular flow of people coming in, saying, “Hey we want to help.”

They ended up selling 115 gift cards in the week before Christmas.

“We love this community … and now we’re starting our first business here,” Dan said. “I didn’t want to do it anywhere else.” 

“We wanted to be part of the community and give back and participate in community events,” Lynne added. “The support has been wonderful and we appreciate everything. And we can’t wait to give back to them what we have to offer.” 

Read more about Cobblestone on Main on their Facebook page.

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When life gives you lemons…

26 Jan

I really love the way our local small business owners are not only persevering through these difficult times, but are finding creative ways to do so.

The most recent example is our very own Village Quilt Shoppe at 21 E. Main Street. Even before the pandemic hit, disaster struck the brand new business just days before the village’s White Christmas celebration, when a water leak from the above apartment flooded the shop, ruining shelving, flooring and inventory.

But owners Vanetta Parshall and Monique Liberti made the best of it, laudering the wet fabric (which they call “flood fabric”) and selling it at a discount. Thanks to their loyal customers, they sold enough to cover the insurance deductible for repairs.

This weekend Vanetta and Monique will be looking back on those difficult days with a Flood Party, and will be displaying several of the projects which were made with the flood fabric. Thanks to Covid, the celebration won’t be very big, but they do promise a hot chocolate bar, cookies, and a demo held every half hour between 11 and 2.

So even if you’re not a quilter, if you’re in the village Saturday, stop on in, check out the shop and meet Monique and Vanetta, two of the nicest people in town.

The Village Quilt Shoppe is located at 21 E. Main St., at the corner of Lapham Park.

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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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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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A visit with my new Webster Village eye doctor

2 Sep

I could probably fill a small notebook with everything I love about living in the village. But no matter what’s on that list — music, shops, pubs, neighbors — one underlying theme ties them all together: people.

That fact was reinforced yesterday when I went for a long-overdue eye appointment.

We were in between optometrists when we moved to the village last year, so we decided to sign on with Webster Eye Care Associates. The office, at 81 East Main St., is about an 8-minute walk from my house. (I LOVE being able to walk to places!)

The place was bustling with activity, and much larger than it appears from outside. The staff members were friendly and efficient, and Dr. Hochreiter, who handled my exam, was very professional and thorough, and patiently answered all of my questions.

But I especially enjoyed my time with the big teddy-bear of a technician who helped me choose my new pair of frames and took the appropriate measurements. We laughed and joked throughout our entire visit. We even discovered at one point that we both used to live in small-town Owego, in the Southern Tier, and shared memories of our old hometown.

My new friend Mike Gustin and me

Only toward the very end of our time together (after learning that I was a new customer) did this very friendly and jovial gentleman introduce himself. All that time, I had been joking with Webster Eye Care co-owner Mike Gustin.

It’s not often that you can walk into a medical office for the first time and leave an hour later feeling like you’ve joined a family. That’s how the folks at Webster Eye Care Associates made me feel yesterday. That’s what small-town hospitality and neighborliness is all about.

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New Webster cookie shop a dessert-lover’s delight

30 Aug

There’s a new cookie shop in town, and be forewarned: it’s downright dangerous. (At least for anyone trying to stay on a diet.)

It’s called Kiss Me Cookie, and it opened on July 1 in the small plaza at 696 Ridge Rd., Webster (where The Garlic Pit is located). And if you like cookies even a little bit, this is going to become one of your favorite shops — EVER.

Webster residents Pam and Steve Bouteiller run Kiss Me Cookie, both juggling full-time jobs and a one-year old son to do so. While Steve comes in to manage the shop most days, Pam does the baking. It’s something she’s done for a long time, and for the last several years she’s been selling her baked goods wholesale, online and at festivals.

But it was only recently that the young couple decided to take the leap and open a physical storefront.

“I was always way too cautious to do something like this,” Pam said. (Steve’s) been wanting to open a store for years now and I was always too nervous. So we discussed it and we decided that when we had enough money saved up from just our cookie enterprise to open a store then we would open a store.”

As it turns out, that happened right in the middle of the pandemic. Undaunted, however, they started looking for a place in April or May, considering opportunities in Fairport and downtown Rochester before discovering their current location, which is conveniently just down the road from their home.

Then the real work began.

“This kitchen had to be built from the ground up,” Steve said. “We painted, did ceiling tiles, I put in 50 to 60 hours a week in June, but we got it done in a month and opened July 1.”

The Webster community has enthusiastically welcomed Kiss Me Cookie. And for good reason; the variety of baked goods they offer and the creativity and love that clearly go into each one is making everyone who walks in an immediate fan.

Just the aroma that fills your senses when you enter the shop is enough to make your mouth water.

Right now, Steve said that their most popular cookies are the Golden Dough, Salted Caramel and Big Reveal Peanut Butter Cup (this last one is a chocolate chip cookie with a peanut butter cup inside). They’ve got plenty of traditional favorites, like snickerdoodles, chocolate chip and butterscotch oatmeal, but if you’re not afraid to try something new, I recommend the magic bars (graham cracker crust with white chocolate, marshmallows, coconut and fruity pebble topping), Oreo bars, s’mores bars, or any one of a dozen another fanciful varieties.

“We’re trying to keep it fun,” Steve said. “We have a few traditional flavors but we’re always trying to do something new, innovative….We have a lot of flavors that people haven’t seen before but nothing that’s unapproachable and strange. We’re trying to make an experience where people can come in and have fun.”

But Kiss Me Cookie is more than just cookies. There are cookie cakes, cookie pizzas, coffees, cheesecakes, homemade hot chocolate mix, even dog treats. And they’re trying to work with local producers as much as possible to keep the operation small-business oriented.

Pam and Steve also offer catering services and individually-wrapped cookies (the extra wrapping fee, by the way, is waived during the pandemic). This fall they hope to introduce fudge, pies and holiday treats as well.

Kiss Me Cookie is located at 696 Ridge Rd., Webster, in the little plaza just west of Hatch Rd. They’re open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, and are closed Monday and Tuesday.

Next Sunday Sept. 6 would be a great time to check them out, when they host a “Goodbye to Summer” party from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., with summer–themed giveaways, 20% off everything in store, free drinks, freeze pops and more, and a chance to win a gift card. To find out more, check out the Facebook event here.

If you can handle some super-glam cookie photos, check out their Facebook page here, and for a full list of their cookie selection, visit their webpage here.

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

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