BATAVIA — Last year’s pandemic pause was harsh on businesses throughout the GLOW region.

They’re still feeling the effects. Some were shuttered permanently, while the others continue to plan, survive and adapt in a world where inflation, labor and supply challenges are only the most recent hurdles to overcome.

But take a look around, and people may have also noticed ribbon cuttings — and a lot of them, as the region endures and emerges.

In Genesee County, since the beginning of June, the Chamber of Commerce has brought its large pair of scissors to more than 20 ribbon-cuttings or grand openings for local businesses.

“It is correct to assume we have had more this year. And that is partially due to COVID,” said Chamber of Commerce Membership Development Director Steven Falitico. “Many of the businesses we have celebrated this year actually opened right before or during the pandemic. Due to the limitations on gatherings and general uneasiness of business owners to have large groups of people at their business, they have been delayed.”

The chamber has encouraged business owners to still celebrate their successes, even if it is over a year later, Falitico said.

“We still want celebrate the opening of their new business in Genesee County,” he said.

As it is throughout the region.

CELEBRATING entrepreneurship

Falitico estimates that nearly half of the ribbon cuttings since June 1 have been delayed ribbon cuttings.

“Over the past three or four years the number of ribbon cuttings has been on the rise,” he said. “That is mostly due to the engagement of the chamber and offering our services to these businesses. New businesses are constantly opening in Genesee County, but many do not think they are worthy of a celebration like this — their business is just what they do, and it is their day-to-day lives.

“If you are an electrician that has recently moved your business from a garage to a brick and mortar office, we want to celebrate that,” he said. “If you are a new restaurant that started off as a food truck, we want to celebrate that. Entrepreneurship is strong in our county and, as a chamber, we want to provide our full support and promotion to these endeavors.

“None of this would be possible without our local media members so I want to give a special shout out to them as well,” he continued. “Also people love our big scissors.”

Why would so many business owners open businesses or hold delayed ribbon-cuttings with the pandemic continuing?

“I think this is more of a societal question than a question that should be posed to business owners,” Falitico said. “With the rise of vaccination rates and ease of New York state restrictions on businesses, many businesses feel much more comfortable having a ribbon cutting in 2021 compared to 2020. These local businesses are the hearts of our downtowns and communities. Without them, the quality of life in Genesee County would diminish. We put our full support behind these businesses for navigating the pandemic the way they have and continuing the entrepreneurial American Dream in our county.”

The number of ribbon cuttings is a testament to the county’s supportive and engaged local economy, he said. Local people want to celebrate their friends and neighbors for taking the plunge into owning their own business.

“The Genesee County Chamber is an organization that promotes, connects and supports these new business owners to encourage the success of their business in our small towns,” he said. “We want Genesee County to be a vibrant place to work, live and play and the success of our local businesses is the key to all of that.”

At the chamber’s annual luncheon on Thursday, President Erik Fix said the 36-inch scissors came out in full force this summer.

“Genesee County is back open and it’s a true testament to that ... the number of ribbon-cuttings that we had,” he said Thursday. “We started with the new kayak launch at DeWitt park. We reopened Six Flags Darien Lake. We welcomed some new car-charging stations to downtown ... Whatever the reason was, the scissors were ready.”

Liberty’s Liquor Cabinet was among the recent ribbon-cuttings, having hosted a celebration Nov. 2. Owner Jenny Wall said the timing of the opening, which took place about a month before the ribbon-cutting, had to do with her liquor license from the state and her wedding.

Things have been going well for Liberty’s Liquor, 10594 Main St., Wall said.

“I think they’ve been really good,” she said. “I’m gaining new customers daily. We’ve had a lot of positive feedback.”

Wall said Liberty’s Liquor Cabinet is gearing up for the holidays and bringing in new products as it can.

New Energy

Economic growth within the GLOW region continues to develop in Wyoming County, and the Wyoming County Chamber of Commerce & Tourism has hosted 15 ribbon cutting ceremonies since June 1, with seven of those on a single Saturday two weeks ago in Perry.

“The number is slightly over last year,” said President and CEO Scott Gardner of the Wyoming County Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Promotion Agency. “There is new energy related to business openings and new startups.

“We are seeing some younger business ownership,” he continued. “Success also breeds success. When someone who may have been waiting sees that others are going ahead with opening plans, they are encouraged to also start up a new business.”

Though launching a new business or venturing out as an entrepreneur may resemble perilous behavior during a global pandemic, many local business owners embraced the change and potential challenges.

“Several people found that the pandemic gave them the reason to start something new either due to a job loss or career change in direction,” Gardner said. “It seems that the pandemic helped to also reshape some focus for individuals who were thinking of making changes. The pandemic helped to narrow down ideas and purpose for some people.”

While most Wyoming County ribbon cutting ceremonies featured new businesses that opened during the pandemic, some were existing businesses either celebrating milestones or relocating. No matter the reason, each ceremony shared a celebratory theme.

“Ribbon cuttings for new openings or expansions are a celebration. It means that the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well. These events are positive indicators for the overall confidence that people have with taking on the risk of a new business,” said Gardner.

Among the business owners who celebrated with a grand opening this year was Patti Schenk of Scratch Pantry on Route 98 in Arcade.

For many years, dating back to 2001, Patti sold her prepared and canned foods at local farmer’s markets with focus on a variety of canned goods, spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce and more. After the sudden loss of her husband, Craig Schenk — who succumbed to injuries from a farm accident — Patti took a break from preparing goods as it was something she and Craig did together.

When the pandemic swept through the world last year, impacting friends and family, Schenk knew it was time to start selling goods from a designated location to help meet the needs of the community. It was time for her to start preparing goods again.

“People should know where their food is coming from,” Patti said. “By selling the goods that I sell, we are both helping the community fill their pantries with locally grown food and supporting local farming.”

The Scratch Pantry was originally supposed to be a stand on the side of the road. Now, with a broadened direction, the Scratch Pantry specializes in jellies, both regular jellies and spreadable jellies, locally made pastas, sauce, produce and much more.

“Everything I make in the store is produced from Western New York farmlands and local vendors,” said Patti, who runs Scratch Pantry with her daughter, Sarah Brown, and her son, Patrick Brown. “I love to do what I am doing. My daughter prepares the jellies and stuff. She learned this at a very young age doing this with me. So, we got together and started this business together.”

Celebrating a grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony in May, Scratch Pantry, though seasonal, hopes to continue providing local food to local consumers and plans to reopen in early spring.

Patti encourages anyone who is thinking about becoming a business owner to pursue their dream and their vision, though to also be thorough as they navigate their future endeavor.

As a farm safety advocate and a strong agricultural industry supporter, Patti is also promoting the sale of Scratch Pantry bags with proceeds that will be donated to a local agricultural organization that will be chosen closer to the date of deposit.

For the next five weeks, Scratch Pantry is hosting an online raffle. Tickets cost $5. For more information visit their Facebook page or call (716) 238-6208.

Opportunities galore

Ribbon cutting ceremonies have likewise been taking center stage in Livingston County, where there have been 9 ceremonies since June 1, including three for new businesses and two for anniversaries. The other four events celebrated changes at existing business.

“It is a great energy in the county,” said President and CEO Laura Lane of the Livingston County Chamber of Commerce. “Whether we are celebrating new businesses or anniversaries of businesses there is just a great energy and a vibe around businesses in Livingston County.”

Whether it’s the October opening Cute as Can Bee Child Care in Caledonia or Jonny B’s Custom BBQ opening in Lima in September 2020, the ribbon cutting ceremonies have helped to celebrate the opening of all types of business and local leaders could not be happier.

“You don’t rebuild an economy on one industry, you build it across different industries,” Lane said. “So to be seeing that type of growth and those kind of ribbon cuttings is just encouraging.”

One of the more unique businesses that held a ribbon cutting ceremony this past spring was at Patchwork Saddlery in Avon.

The business on East Main Street in the village is owned by Kim Rengert and Heidi Lemke. They’re not just coworkers — they’re a mother-and-daughter team who are hoping to offer something different to the community.

“People can buy saddles online but every horse is shaped differently,” Lemke said. “Just like I do not wear the same size pants as Kim. Horses all wear different size pants, which is essentially their saddle.”

Having a correct fitting saddle, Rengert and Lemke said, is essential for both the horse and the rider.

“If there is a discomfort issue a rider could potentially get bucked off or a horse could get injured,” Lemke said. “So in order to keep horses performing happily and comfortable, saddle fit is essential.”

With budgets ranging from $500 to $5,000, the owners said they have something for just about everyone.

The store is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays to Fridays and also by appointment. For information, go to https://www.patchworksaddlery.com/ or call (585) 319-9799.

Also celebrating in Avon was Marcea Clark Tetamore. She opened two businesses at 50 Genesee St. in October, including a law practice and a real estate office.

“I have been an attorney for 30 years,” she said. “I just became an associate real estate broker a year ago and we now have this as a branch office of AB Cole Real Estate.”

Tetamore has had a long legal career — she was first admitted to the Florida Bar in 1991 and the New York Bar in 1993. She started in Miami, Fla., as a legal assistant in several small law firms before she went to Niagara University for law school.

Her career has focused on many different areas of law, including real estate, bankruptcy, divorce, family law and criminal defense. She was the chief public defender of Livingston County for almost 18 years. She opened the Law Office of Marcea Clark Tetamore in March 2018.

Her husband Larry Tetamore also works in the space and on Sept. 21, he had a ribbon cutting ceremony to open Tetamore Photographic. He’s a freelance photographer who began photography in his teens using his father’s Leica 35mm film camera.

A former graphic design artist, he utilizes that background to create vivid, expressive photographs that capture the moment whether it’s a wedding, family photos, portraits, a business photo shoot, landscapes or anything in between.

“I love photography,” he said. “When you press the shutter button, that moment captured will never happen again. I love doing that, capturing those moments and sharing them.”

His photographs have been published in The New York State “I Love Fresh Air” and Life in the Finger Lakes magazines, the Livingston County Tourism Visitors Guide, the Geneseo Tourism Brochure, The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, The Livingston County News, and also appeared on NBC’s “Today” show.

From big to small companies, the ribbon cuttings have been brisk and according to Lane, more frequent.

“I live for ribbon cuttings,” she said. “It is my favorite part of my job because it signifies and there is something when you go ‘whoosh’ that signifies so much — the work that a business puts into it and our ability to be apart of their celebration of all of the hard work, who would not want to be apart of it.”

One of the more bigger companies that held a ribbon cutting ceremony was at Matthews Buses in Avon.

Matthews Buses specializes is bus sales, service, repairs and also has a full service collision shop. The company was founded in 1967 by Robert and Justine Matthews and grown over the years.

They now have locations in Ballston Spa, Avon, Poughkeepsie, and Syracuse. Before coming to Avon, their previous location was in Danville.

“We were looking to build a new facility and we looked at Dansville and there was nothing existing,” Guy said. “I found out about this particular facility through a friend of mine.”

“One thing let to another and it just made sense for us to buy the entire plaza,” he said.

The entire plaza is about 100,000 square feet with Matthews Buses taking up about 40,000 square feet.

“We also looked at it as a way to generate income in the plaza. We have two tenants now,” said Guy.

They are celebrations that are not only good for local businesses but also good for the local economy and Lane says she could not be happier when someone fills out a form on the Chamber of Commerce web site for a ribbon cutting celebration.

“It is good news and who does not want to hear about good news,” she said. (Includes reporting by staff writers Brian Quinn, Kori Sciandra and Brendan McDonough.)

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