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Stores encourage customers to see the convenience in local shopping

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HEUVELTON – Workers at Pickens General Store, 83 State St., say it’s not uncommon to find customers waiting in the parking lot for the store’s weekly delivery of cheese curds during the holiday season.

“Cheese curds are hugely popular for holiday dinners and gatherings,” store clerk Betsy C. Hebert said Monday. “It comes in fresh on Thursdays, and, during the holiday, it will be almost sold out that same afternoon.”

Many of the cheeses – including Losurdo Food Inc.’s cheese curds – are produced locally.

“Some cheeses we’ll cut right off the block for you,” Ms. Hebert said. “One of our main mottos is to keep things local and to help the local craftspeople and artisans stay busy.”

Ms. Hebert said she estimates that 75 percent of the goods sold at Pickens are made locally by artisans and Amish craftsmen. And that’s a big draw for customers.

“I wouldn’t say all our items are unique, but we offer the biggest coagulation of unique items,” she said. “People will get an Amish basket and fill it with local goods, including from tools and pot holders, to decorative items and candles. We try to have a local vendor for each of our departments.”

As a way to accommodate customers, Pickens is extending its hours Thursdays and Fridays from 7 to 9 p.m. this holiday season.

Pickens General Store is one of many local stores adapting to accommodate holiday shoppers, according to Ogdensburg Chamber of Commerce Director Sandra M. Porter.

Many stores will be offering special promotions and extended hours to encourage shoppers to shop locally, she said.

“We support shopping locally all year long and especially during the holiday season,” Mrs. Porter said. “There are so many unique stores around here. You are sure to find something really interesting.

In Rensselaer Falls, bargains begin “Small Business Saturday” – Nov. 30 – and run through the first week in December.

All of the shops in Rensselaer Falls - Susan Stitches, McAllister’s Liquors & Wine, Ladies First Gallery and Chapin’s Market - will be open Saturday.

“There are ‘shoppers specials’ occurring on Saturday, and the following weekend, and some shops are open Dec. 8,” Ladies First Gallery owner Sally W. Hartman said.

Also on Saturday, Morristown will be hosting “open studios” 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Customers can hop from one studio to another at their leisure to purchase local goods handcrafted by artisans as part of the tour. Blue balloons will mark studios for travelers.

For more information, contact Mary Ann Evans at 375-8214.

“Our goal is to give people an opportunity to shop 10 or 15 miles away instead of going to Watertown or Massena,” Ms. Evans said.

The Ogdensburg Chamber offices will be selling gifts from books from local authors James Reagen, Matt Curatolo and Barbra Briggs Ward.

“We also have our collectable ornaments featuring local landmarks, long and short sleeve t-shirts featuring the St. Lawrence River, and hand drawn maps of downtown Ogdensburg during the 50s and 60s.” Mrs. Porter said. “I try to get as many local artisans to bring things in as possible.”

As part of a statewide initiative, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced Thursday that consumers can visit the state’s newly revamped Pride of New York website to find local gifts for the holiday season.

From maple products to wineries – the site features maps and profiles of locally grown and produced 3,000 members New York State food and beverage products this upcoming holiday season.

For more information, customers can visit: www.prideofny.com.

Shopping local is beneficial to the business owner and the consumer, Mrs. Porter said.

“Shopping local helps promote businesses, keeps jobs and saves you gas and time - you don’t have to plan a day trip,” Mrs. Porter said.

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