It’s no surprise that small businesses are a means of stimulating growth in a community. In addition to bolstered innovation and environmental perks, small businesses rouse the economy by providing employment opportunities and creating meaningful jobs, keeping money close to home and benefiting neighborhoods, schools, local government and community health.
Home to several small businesses, Winthrop caters to its residents and visitors in a variety of different ways. From businesses that have generated income and given back to the community for generations, to new entrepreneurs who are taking risks, shop owners of different backgrounds have found that supporting one another is of ultimate importance when it come to the success of the store and the success of the community as a whole.
“Local business is the lifeblood of the community in so many ways,” said Kim Hardy, at the Hardy office of Welsh & Parker Insurance Agency Inc. on 57 Putnam St. “Like many of the other Winthrop businesses I chose to be present in this community because I believe in it. Winthrop has been good to my family for many generations, and I am committed to being here.”
In 2008, Hardy joined Welsh & Parker Insurance and opened an office in Winthrop Center. Like many other residents, Hardy finds herself supporting other local businesses on a daily basis.
“I am always running to the Marketplace or the Meat Market before I head home to cook. There is the element of convenience- but it is more than that. Patsy or Sandro always ask how my day was and there is a comradery of being a business owner in the community.”
Hardy remembers having a conversation with another business owner. The two shared their experiences on balancing motherhood and being a new business owner.
“We often support each other in quiet ways,” said Hardy, who believes in the importance of supporting the local businesses that support the town. “You need to remember that your local business owners have been supporting the community for years. Amazon and Geico do not send money to Winthrop to fundraise for local sport teams, offer jobs to students or help when a local resident is sick or in need. If you don’t support your local business, they will not be around to support the community.”
Giving back to the community is something that Jimmy Gillis, Owner of the Winthrop Pro Shop, is well versed in. Customer James Fabiano applauded the owner of 16 years for his commitment to youth and team sports.
“Jimmy helps every non-profit organization and team in town.”
Supporting one another doesn’t have to come with an alignment of services. Oftentimes, one business owner will send a customer to another local business for different reasons. Sarah Roth, Owner of La Petite Boutique on Somerset Avenue, has had parents of students at Cervizzi’s Martial Arts come in to browse while their children are in a class. In the seven years that Roth has been in business, she’s witnessed several instances where customers from the hair salons come in to shop while they wait for their appointment.
“A customer may be in town to get a coffee, have a hair appointment or drop of their child for karate, but while they are here, they visit the other shops. There is a lot of crossover. That’s why it’s important for people to frequent the small businesses. It creates a sense of community and togetherness, which develops commerce organically.”
All business owners collectively work toward success and that can be achieved by lifting others and working as a team, ultimately fulfilling the needs of the community.
“We are very grateful that, on a regular basis, we have customers coming in telling us they were referred to us by another local business,” said Robin Gerolamo, Owner of Robin’s Nest, at 79 Jefferson St. “We, in return, refer customers to our fellow local small businesses almost daily. Regardless of the product or service a customer is looking for, we refer them to a local establishment that best suits their needs. If a small local business can be a destination point for customers outside of their immediate communities, is likely those customers will patronize other local businesses.”
Like other small business owners, Gerolamo believes that successful local businesses can have a tremendous positive impact on their overall communities.
“It’s all about community at the end of the day. If we don’t support each other, we won’t be successful,” said Jamie Desmond, Daycare Manager, at Sandy Paws at 64 Putnam St.
Sandy Paws Owner, Amanda Koutalakis, recently hired a groomer from Everett, which has brought a lot of out-of-town customers in. While these customers wait for their dog to be groomed, they are referred to the local coffee shops and restaurants.
The need for local business support will only become more important with the upcoming redesign of French Square.
“It’s an even greater time to be supportive of each other with the infrastructure happening,” said Betsy Shane, Executive Director of the Winthrop Chamber of Commerce. “It’s about building relationships and keeping the money in the community. In turn, we will have better schools and better local government infrastructure.”
Shane saw the collaboration of teamwork in action recently when she joined Frank Costantino, Marc Chapdelaine (License Commission Board Chair), Swett’s Liquor employees, Harbor City Church members, and the DPW to remove and replant some of the plants in French Square.
“We are a community that works together.”