Rubrum’s Florist Ltd. in Ossining has been more around for 25 years selling flowers, plants and gifts. It’s a member of the Greater Ossining Chamber of Commerce and participates in the Chamber’s shop local program.
“I’m in favor of them bringing more industry and shoppers to our town,” said Frank Orts, owner of the florist shop. “I think our town is sort of splintered in where the hubs of shopping are; that makes it hard to have people concentrated into an area.”
Ossining’s Chamber of Commerce has been working on promoting local enterprises that already exist and on luring in new entrepreneurs.
“We’re looking to sustain our local businesses, help them continue to grow and support them, but we’re also looking to attract more businesses here,” said Gayle Marchica, president of the Chamber. “The more businesses you have in the area, the better the tax base. It’s a building process.”
The shop local program started two years ago to make people in the community more aware of businesses in the area, she said. It not only encompasses shops in the Village Ossining but also those in the Town, the village of Briarcliff and even some in Croton and Millwood.
Marchica and her colleagues compiled and produced a list of more than 100 vendors involved in the Chamber’s cause. There’s also a map of the corresponding vendors’ locations on Highland Avenue and Route 9; Main Street and Downtown; on Croton Avenue and Pleasantville Road.; and North State Road. You can view the map on the chamber’s website.
Four to six times each year, the Chamber’s members gather at various networking events to share the status of their businesses. On the second Tuesday every month, the chamber hosts its “B before B” event—business before business. About 15 to 20 people usually attend, Marchica said.
Orts hasn’t attended any of the meetings, but still supports the idea of investing in local products and services.
“When I need hardware items, I go to the local hardware store right here in town because I know I’m going to ask a question and someone there is going to know the answer,” he said. “It’s convenient too. Why drive half an hour away to buy the same products in bulk?"
Shops, like Orts’s, generally offer specialized services, where not only is the quality of products better than those chains, but it’s where the owners can form relationships with customers.
“I think individual businesses themselves have to cultivate their customers to their shop or product,” he said.
He also wonders how Ossining can mirror surrounding towns like Downtown Tarrytown are bustling areas of popular and successful businesses.
“Ossining’s downtown area has been a really tough nut to crack,” Marchica said.
However, the Village’s campaign to purchase vacant properties in that area and lease them out to new businesses will push Ossining in the direction of a more vibrant destination.
Now, the Chamber is working on a project to make keypads available to residents that would then permit them to receive discounts at its member businesses. It also plans to reach out to individual businesses more to help promote them more, Marchica said.
The next “B before B” event is at the Chamber’s office on Tues. Aug 9 between 8 and 10 a.m. Its bigger, annual event is a “Schmooze” at Atria-on-the-Hudson on Sept. 8.