A season to save in Schenectady County

It's hard to think about Black Friday and holiday shopping for many, especially when it might be a struggle to put food on the table for the Thanksgiving feast the day before.

However, despite statistics released last week from the Siena Research Institute that show more New York shoppers are planning to spend on holiday gifts this year, Schenectady County business owners remain optimistic about this shopping season.

When asked whether she thinks the country's financial woes are having much of an effect on Schenectady County's economy, Leesa Pagan, director of public affairs for the Schenectady County Chamber of Commerce, pointed to the area's growth.

If three brand new storefronts are any indication, I would say 'no' [the economy isn't affecting us negatively], said Pagan. "I think people are very excited about coming downtown and shopping and supporting downtown."

Jim Salango, the executive director of the Downtown Schenectady Improvement Corporation, reported that so far business has been good in downtown Schenectady, but he understands that it might take a little more than usual to attract shoppers to the area this season.

"We actually just came off a sort of busy weekend -- if you will, an unofficial kickoff to the holiday season," said Salango. "What we're really looking to do is leverage this momentum to buy local and to really try to get people to take advantage of a lot of the businesses we have in downtown Schenectady."

Salango said he hopes that people will shop at some level in downtown Schenectady regardless of the economy or what they may be able to find in malls and big-box stores.

"These are folks that are in their community, and the level of what they have is a really interesting mix," said Salango, of the shop owners. "I think people will get a different kind of experience here and hopefully enjoy the shops enough to start a relationship and keep coming back in the future."

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