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Guest Column: State Sen. Tom O'Mara

"Shopping left to do? Remember shopping small"

ALBANY, Dec. 9 -- Many of us have now pushed through the hustle and bustle of so-called Black Friday, which actually began on Thanksgiving Thursday in many outlets this year, and we’ve clicked our way through the Cyber Monday deals. But if you’re anything like me-- and I know a lot of you are because I see you out there every holiday shopping season -- there’s still plenty of gift-buying left to do.

In fact, the last few weeks before Christmas are among the heaviest shopping days of all. A National Retail Federation survey a few years ago found that as of mid-December, the average consumer had only completed about 47% of their holiday gift-buying. That same survey reported that about 42 million American consumers, about 20%, had not even started shopping yet. And, yes, there was even one survey by the International Council of Shopping showing that more than 23 million consumers planned to shop on Christmas Eve.

While so much of today’s holiday shopping is done online, the closer we get to Christmas we also recognize that the preponderance of late season buying shifts to “brick-and-mortar retail.” And that can be good news for local businesses because fortunately, for many of us, there’s usually a store right down the street or a shop right around the corner from home that turns out to be the best destination of all to find that perfect (and meaningful) gift.

So here’s hoping that we’ll do our best to support these small businesses on Main Street, Market Street, Water Street or wherever they happen to be found in your own community.

We hear it all the time, especially in government where we debate constantly about how best to create jobs and strengthen local economies: small businesses are the backbone of the economy. There’s no question that Albany and Washington can take steps to help improve the climate for our small businesses. Just this past legislative session in New York, for example, the state Senate approved a “New Jobs-NY” plan I cosponsored that included a series of tax breaks and credits aimed at small business development. We’ll be taking that plan up again when the new session begins in January.

But one strategy that can really keep making a difference was highlighted again this holiday season through a nationwide event on November 24th called Small Business Saturday. It’s all about consumer choice.

Here’s how the head of the federal Small Business Administration (SBA) defined the idea of “shopping small” as a guide worth remembering throughout the holiday shopping season: “Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and the fabric of our communities. By shopping small…we can support the men and women who are building these amazing small businesses. It’s a chance to say thank you to the small business owners who do so much for our communities.”

These small businessmen and women – in many instances, in fact, small business families – play such a fundamental role in local job creation and preservation, to say nothing of economic opportunity and hope here at home and, collectively, all across the nation.

The SBA notes that over the past 20 years small businesses have been responsible for creating two out of every three net new jobs nationally. More than one-half of all of America’s working men and women, according to federal statistics, own or are employed by a small business.

It’s also worth recalling these words from Mike Durant, the director of New York’s leading small business association, the National Federation of Independent Business/NY: “It’s about the entrepreneurs and families who have put everything into stores that offer what the chains and e-commerce companies don’t – something different, something special, from handcrafted gifts to genuinely friendly service…When you shop at a small business, you’re supporting your hometown, your neighborhood and your neighbors. We can’t have a strong economy unless our small businesses are doing well.”

Well said, and right on the money.

So as we head out the door to finish up this year’s shopping, there’s nothing stopping us from setting aside at least one stop along the way to support a local small business somewhere across the
Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions.

I’ll look forward to seeing some of you out there.

Photo in text: State Senator Tom O'Mara


Schuyler County Officials

Legislature Members:

Top row (from left): Dennis Fagan, Thomas Gifford, Doris Karius, Glenn Larison

Bottom row: Michael A. Yuhasz, Barbara Halpin, Phil Barnes, Stewart Field


Legislature Chairman

Dennis Fagan, Tyrone 607-292-3687

Legislature Members:

Michael A. Yuhasz, 535-4967

Doris L. Karius, 546-5544

Barbara Halpin, 594-3683

Glenn R. Larison, 594-3385

Thomas M. Gifford, 535-9517

Phil Barnes, Watkins Glen 481-0482

Stewart Field, Watkins Glen 535-2335

County Clerk: Linda Compton, 535-8133

Sheriff: William Yessman, 535-8222

Undersheriff: Breck Spaulding, 535-8222

County Treasurer: Margaret Starbuck, 535-8181

District Attorney: Joseph Fazzary, 535-8383


State, Federal Officials for Schuyler County

Sen. Charles E. Schumer

United States Senate
313 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510-3201
DC Phone: 202-224-6542
DC Fax: 202-228-3027
Email Address:

Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand

United States Senate
478 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
DC Phone: 202-224-4451

State Senator Tom O'Mara -- Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben, Yates, western Tompkins, Enfield, Ithaca (Town and City), Newfield, Ulysses(Trumansburg)

Room 812, Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12247
Phone: (518) 455-2091
Fax: (518) 426-6976

Assemblyman Christopher Friend -- Chemung, Schuyler, Tioga
Room 720, Legislative Office Building
Albany, NY 12248
Phone: (518) 455-4538


© The Odessa File 2011
Charles Haeffner
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869