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Buffalo's Mom and Pop Shops Skirt Sour Economy

By Joyce Kryszak

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wbfo/local-wbfo-834395.mp3

Buffalo, NY – The Elmwood Village Association is tackling the economic downturn with a promotion to boost sales during two peak shopping times - Mothers' Day and Fathers' Day weeks. But promoters say business for Buffalo's Mom and Pop shops actually is doing pretty good already.

"Love Your Mom and Pop." The promotion name has a nice friendly, home town ring to it. Justin Azzarella is executive director of the Association. He said they hatched the marketing scheme, which is a partnership with Buffalo First, during one of their regular meetings. Shop owners in the Elmwood business district are offering some nice discounts during the weeks of May 1-10 and June 12-21.

But Azzarella said the really exciting thing about this promotion is that it is merely a boost for shop owners - not a desperate attempt to attract business. Surprisingly, he said Buffalo's Mom and Pop shops are not being hit very hard by the bad economy.

That's especially good to hear as news that large retailers are either closing or scaling back hits closer and closer to home. This week it was announced that 14 area shopping plazas are up for sale. Azzarella said it is proof that bigger is not always better.

And sometimes really, really small can be even better. Carol Wannamacher is an Elmwood Village artisan who doesn't even have a store front.

The Lexington Avenue resident manufacturers her Crowbiz gift products in her factory on the third floor of her home. She sells the handcrafted, unique items over the web and from craft tables around town. And not just a few here and there mind you. Wannamacher said economic crisis? What economic crisis? She said business did not even slow down after the holidays.

She said it is a good problem to have. And it is not purely by accident. Wannamacher said the personal approach to sales is effective. And she knows her market. She sells high demand gift items that are reasonably priced.

Azzarella with the Elmwood Village Association said the same holds true for Mom and Pop shops all along the Elmwood strip. For them he said being in the zone is the old adage of location, location, location. But he said the small business owners do not take that for granted. He said they brush up on business basics and get extra training, taking courses at local colleges.

But Azzarella said a lot of their success comes from people recognizing the value of buying local. And he said that value to the community can be measured. Business studies have found that buying locally keeps three times more money in the local economy. Azzarella said that means people stay employed and the quality of life in the neighborhood stays good.

If you would like to learn more about how to support your favorite Mom and Pop - and save a little cash on your Mothers' and Fathers' Day gifts - you can log onto Buffalo First for discounts. And you can find Wannamacher's Crowbiz gifts at Etsy.

Click the audio player above to hear Joyce Kryszak's story now or use your podcasting software to download it to your computer or iPod. Joyce Kryszak - WBFO News.