Growing a beautiful business

For Sposa Bella, superior service is secret to lasting success

Sposa Bella owner Michele R. Scanlin, right, and her daughter, Erin S. Alguire, at their Canton store. Photo by Jason Hunter.

It was 1974 when Michele Scanlin had an inkling something vital was missing inside the bridal shops she visited with an engaged friend, something she felt was just as important as the gown the bride would ultimately wear down the aisle. That something was customer service.

“I was completely appalled by the way we were treated. I encountered rudeness and very little help, if any. After visiting a handful of stores, I ended up sketching the gown for my friend. She fell in love with it, and so I made it for her,” Ms. Scanlin said.

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HSBC’s departure creates smaller pot of loans for small businesses

The former HSBC building in downtown Watertown is now owned by Community Bank.

With HSBC gone from the north country, the smaller banks that remain may not have enough capital to meet the demand of entrepreneurs and small businesses.

Observers say those seeking loans to launch startups could find themselves at a disadvantage, as the pool of applicants will be dominated by HSBC’s larger clients now doing business at local banks. This summer, five HSBC branches in the north country were taken over by Community Bank and four by First Niagara Bank.

“When the largest bank leaves the area, common sense says to me it’s going to be much more difficult for startups to find funding,” said F. Eric Constance, regional director of the Small Business Development Center in Watertown, which helps startups develop business plans in Jefferson, Lewis and Oswego counties. “It makes it that much more difficult to find loans.”

Of the roughly 800 clients the center works with during a typical year, about 65 percent are small startups. Only about 15 percent of the nonprofit’s clients successfully obtain loans.

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Do small businesses create jobs?

Small businesses have been called the “job creators,” the “engine of our economy.” Just about everyone would agree that small business growth is what’s needed to spur our economy’s recovery. But some say it’s not so.

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Farmer bets on crop’s resilience

By Gabrielle Hovendon
NNY Business

Paul T. Haldeman kneels next to hillside beds on Zoar Asparagus Farm in Rodman. Photo by Amanda Morrison.

Ask Paul T. Haldeman why his 50-acre farm is lined with rows of asparagus and the answer is simple.

“The fact is that this is the Tug Hill, and it’s a harsh area,” said Mr. Haldeman, owner of Zoar Asparagus Farm in Rodman. “We’ve tried lots of vegetables and other things, and it wasn’t profitable any other way. After about seven years of experimenting we came up with the conclusion that the only thing that would work was asparagus.”

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Behling’s Spookhill Farms back in business

ADAMS CENTER — After a more than five-year hiatus, the Behling’s Spookhill Farms store is once again open for business.

The store’s opening was a pleasant return for Mike W. Behling, a member of the Jefferson County Board of Legislators.

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Serving a growing community

‘Authenticity of products’ hits high note for Hispanic grocery

Enrique A. Ruiz, 11, helps stock shelves at El Chinchorro Hispanic Grocery on Coffeen Street in Watertown. Photo by Justin Sorensen.

By Gabrielle Hovendon
NNY Business

You won’t find any bags of Doritos or cans of Coca-Cola on the shelves of the market at 605 Coffeen St. When you walk through the door, the cheerful yellow walls won’t be lined with rows of freezers or coolers of dairy and produce. You might spot a few items that are available in local stores – Goya brand legumes and pineapple juice, for instance – but the majority of this market’s items can’t be found anywhere else in the north country.

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Get your game on — again

Retro gaming systems get Infinite Lives thanks to innovative store

Retro Nintendo Entertainment System and Atari 2600 game cartridges are seen lining the shelves at Infinite Lives. The systems are just two of the retro gaming platforms that customers can purchase games for at the store. Photo by Amanda Morrison.

By Chris Brock
NNY Business

The game plan for Mitchell J. LaBarge began by accident.

His independent video game store started as a repair business.

“The whole repair thing started because I had some friends who had Xboxes that were broken,” he said. “They knew I was kind of handy with that sort of stuff.”
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A ‘detail-oriented’ drive to succeed: Lunman’s Furniture marks six decades of sales in South Jeff area

David H. Lunman in one of the kitchen displays that he designed inside of Lunman's Furniture showroom in Adams. Mr. Lunman was one of the first kitchen designers to use a computer for design work. Photo by Amanda Morrison.

Lunman’s Furniture and Appliance Center, 70 N. Main St., Adams, is celebrating its 60th year in business in southern Jefferson County.

Jack Lunman opened his store in 1952 on N. Main Street. At that time he sold Zenith television sets and appliances. Mr. Lunman retired in 1984, which opened the door for his son, David H., to take over full-time store ownership.

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Berry Brothers Lumber rolls with the changes

Lee Berry of Berry Brothers Lumber in Adams holds scrap cardboard and wood in front of the animal bedding that it is recycled into. Photo by Justin Sorensen.

By Joleene DesRosiers
NNY Business

Berry Brothers Lumber in Adams has undergone some extreme transformations over the past 60 years that owners Gary and Lee Berry never could have anticipated. From overseas industry changes to a fire in 2008 that devastated the facilities, the company that started as a saw mill in 1947 has managed to keep its doors open, despite any changes. Berry Brothers Lumber still handles wood – but in a completely different way. [Read more…]

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Welcome to the new now in business

Rhonda Abrams, a speaker and writer on small business issues, recently shared an article she wrote for USA Today in 1997. Now, 1997 doesn’t sound that long ago (to me, anyway). But when you consider the changes that the Internet has brought, not just to our personal lives but to our businesses as well, it’s staggering.

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