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Holiday Shopping Weekend aims to promote local business

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POTSDAM - Thirty shops, salons and restaurants in Potsdam will offer special deals this weekend as part the Potsdam Chamber of Commerce’s annual Holiday Shopping Weekend.

The weekend also kicks off the start of holiday hours for many shops, which are not usually open on Sunday.

The weekend is meant to boost holiday shopping in downtown Potsdam, an important sales period for many merchants, especially because it falls just before a lull in sales as college students head home for winter break, chamber Executive Director Marylee E. Ballou said.

“As retailors,the holiday season is important to all of us,” according to Karen Sidletsky, owner of the Misty Hollow crafts shop and a member of the Potsdam Chamber of Commerce board of directors. “We hope that what we have planned will be successful. The chamber has done everything they can, they’ve spent a lot on ads” to promote the Holuday Shopping Weekend.

Ms. Sidletsky said business varies from year to year, depending on the strength of the economy and other factors.

In addition to a wide variety of sales, shoppers may enjoy food and wine sampling, contests, prizes and, for the younger shoppers, photos with Santa. One shopper will be awarded a $100 gift card, redeemable at more than 130 businesses, and a second will receive a $50 gift card.

“We hope everyone will remember that Potsdam has a lot of great shops,” Ms. Ballou said. “Our hope is that people stay local and shop local.”

Northern Music & Video co-owner Jeremy Carney said the Holiday Shopping Weekend has been “extremely” successful in the past, and that the sale the store holds on the Sunday of this weekend is one of their biggest days of the year.

“It’s kind of the beginning of the whole shopping period for this town,” Mr. Carney said. “It’s always been successful.”

Aside from turning an essential profit for the year, some businesses hold community events this weekend to benefit local charities. Potsdam Agway will hold a “pets photos with Santa” to benefit the local pets’ health group Spay Neuter Now; the CORC Thrift Store will hold a bake sale to benefit Building Fund; and the Potsdam Food Coop will hold its 15th annual Bake Contest and Silent Auction to benefit the Potsdam Neighborhood Center, a branch of the Community Development Program that helps poor and at-risk individuals in the area.

Each year the Potsdam Food Coop accepts entries of baked-goods in four categories, including desserts, cookies, savory and special diet dishes. Any shopper may sample a dish, and submit a vote for the winner. The winners are each awarded $25 gift card, and one batch of each submitted dish is put up for auction, the proceeds of which go to the PNC, according to Lynn Clark-Stone, part-time community outreach coordinator for the Potsdam Food Coop.

“It’s a really nice community event that helps to raise money for what the PNC does,” Ms. Clark-Stone said. “The whole idea is getting the community together for a good cause.”

Every store will set its own hours of business for Saturday and Sunday.

Ms. Ballou believes most of the shops will be open from around 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

For a full list of participating stores and offers, visit http://www.potsdamchamber.com/.

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