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652 Main Street, East Aurora, NY 14052

The Principles of Greatness - A Chamber Blog

WinterFest Mini Restaurant Week Starts Thursday, Feb. 18

Chamber hosts first annual WinterFest Mini Restaurant Week Feb. 18 to Feb. 20

Seventeen local restaurants to participate

Seventeen (17) local restaurants will be participating in the Greater East Aurora Chamber of Commerce’s first annual WinterFest Mini Restaurant Week, Thursday, Feb. 18 through Saturday, Feb. 20.

The Chamber partnered with the Town of Aurora this year to help create some fun new events for WinterFest 2021. “We wanted to get our local businesses involved and encourage people to come out to the greater East Aurora region during WinterFest,” explained Victoria Sturman, Associate Director of the Greater East Aurora Chamber of Commerce.

“The last restaurant week we did in September was very successful but was only open to Chamber members. Knowing how difficult the past year has been for all of our restaurants, we decided to open up this event to non-members as well. Our goal is to help our entire business community during this pandemic, not just our members.”

Participating restaurants include*:

*Please note, these links are to the restaurants’ websites, and may not display the special WinterFest Mini Restaurant Week menus. Please visit here to view the special menus.

More information on the restaurants and their special WinterFest Restaurant Week menus will be posted on the Chamber’s website – www.eanycc.com. Each menu includes meals at one (or more) of the following price points: $10, $20, or $30.

This event is sponsored by The Bonadio Group, a top 50 CPA firm that delivers a full spectrum of services to help clients overcome their financial and business challenges.



Local Businesses join with Chamber for unique Pay It Forward event & ITAC Fundraiser

Local Businesses join with Chamber for unique Pay It Forward event & ITAC Fundraiser

Gift Card Raffle to help support struggling area businesses

 Several local businesses are joining forces with the Greater East Auror Chamber of Commerce to host a new and unique “pay it forward” event focused on helping fellow business owners who have struggled during the pandemic while also supporting ITAC – It Takes A Community Drug & Alcohol Prevention Coalition.

The Chamber’s new 2021 Snowflake Gift Card Raffle is going on now through Friday, Feb. 12.

According to Victoria Sturman, Associate Director of the Greater East Aurora Chamber of Commerce, the Chamber wanted to create an event that would directly help the businesses that are struggling most – specifically those in the restaurant, retail, and health & wellness industries.

“Some of our members have been asking us what they can do to help their fellow business owners, who they see fighting to keep their doors open,” Sturman said. “After lots of discussion and brainstorming, we decided to create a new event where business owners who weren’t as badly affected by the pandemic could reach out – through the Chamber – and support those who are facing challenges.”

How does it work?

Businesses sign-on to be a sponsor of the event – there are five levels. As a sponsor, that business gets to choose a business or businesses (depending on the sponsorship level) to support through the purchase of a $50 gift card(s). Part of their sponsorship investment goes toward the purchase of those gift cards.

“The response from sponsors has been fantastic. It really shows how close-knit a community the Greater East Aurora region is and that, when it comes down to it, we’re all in this fight together. It’s so great to see businesses who normally compete coming together to help each other out, “ she said.

The gift cards are bundled into “virtual baskets” worth $100 or more. These “virtual baskets” will then be raffled off LIVE on the Chamber’s Facebook page (@EastAuroraChamber) at noon on Friday, Feb. 12. ITAC will receive a percentage of the net profits from this event.

Raffle tickets are on sale now through the Chamber’s website or at the Chamber office, 652-8444. The “virtual baskets” can also be viewed online.

There are still sponsorships available for any business wishing to offer support. Please contact the Chamber at 652-8444 or visit its website for more information.

The drawing will work similar to a door prize drawing – all tickets go into one basket and the winners are chosen randomly. But rest assured, Sturman says, there is someone thing for everyone!

The winners will be drawn LIVE on the Chamber’s Facebook page at Noon on Friday, Feb. 12. Winners will be notified via email.

The Chamber wants to thank all of the businesses who have stepped up to this point sponsors this event and their fellow business owners: 

Blizzard Sponsor
West Herr Buick BMC Cadillac

Snow Storm Sponsor
General Physician

Snow Day Sponsor
Bartsch’s Auto Service
Great Erie Federal Credit Union
Metamorphosis Pilates & Bodyworks
Philipps and Brooks, CPAs
Vision Development of WNY


Snowflake Sponsor

FMV Tax Professionals
Hartloff Benefit Solutions LLC
Holland Hardware
Independent Nursing Care
Loptr, LLC



Bartsch’s Auto Service
Hampton Inn
Marilla Country Store
Mary Karlis
The Bank
Tom Petrie

Chamber talks with Sen. Patrick Gallivan about COVID impacts on businesses

This morning, Wednesday, Dec. 2, the Greater East Aurora Chamber along with several other Chambers locally and across the State, had a Zoom meeting with NYS Senator Patrick Gallivan.

We discussed many of the challenges our business communities are facing from Covid restrictions; health; safety concerns of the public and employees; hiring, unemployment, and workforce issues; to the impacts not only on retail and restaurants but also on manufacturing and the issues working remotely has on our local businesses.

We also talked about the negative, long-lasting impact that would be created if there was another round of shutdowns.

The conversation continued on what the Senate and Assembly would do regarding the Governor’s Covid authority once the NYS legislative session kicked in January 2021.

The group also stressed the need for financial relief for businesses during the continuation of Covid restrictions.

The Senator was hopeful – as we all are – that the impact of this crisis will lessen as we head into the new year and that the State legislature will take some actions to help and lessen restrictions on businesses.

Senator Gallivan said he would review our concerns with his staff and at the start of 2021 work to communicate with and assist businesses in his district to enable them to survive and succeed.

The Chamber will continue to advocate on your behalf with our local, state, and federal officials. We know these are troubling times and we’ll use all our connections to make sure your voice is heard loud and clear.

We’ve Got Your Back

Greater East Aurora Chamber Joins with Other Local Chambers in Issuing Statement of Support for Local Businesses


The Greater East Aurora Chamber of Commerce is here to support you and other local businesses!

During these challenging times, we felt it was extremely important for us to take a stand and advocate on your behalf!

Today we joined with several other local chambers, representing nearly 2,000 businesses across Erie County, to express our deep concern with the state’s issuing of blanket micro-cluster restrictions based on industry.

Our joint public statement – which will be sent to local and state officials as well as the media and our members – is below.

Please know, we are with you and support you!

Feel free to share this statement on your social media and use the hashtag #wesupportsmallbusinessWNY!!

If there is anything the Chamber can do to help you during this time, please reach out!


Gary D. Grote
Executive Director
Greater East Aurora Chamber of Commerce
(716) 652-8444


Joint Statement from Local WNY Chambers of Commerce


We, the undersigned Chambers of Commerce representing nearly 2,000 businesses and organizations across Western New York, strongly advocate for adjustment of the regulatory business closure procedures within designated cluster zone areas as part of the state Cluster Action Initiative. We believe that the vast majority of local businesses have made substantial investments and taken significant action to ensure they are following safety protocols and NY Forward guidance. Those businesses that have remained in compliance and continue to be vigilant should be allowed to remain open to the public. Sweeping mandated closures should not be conducted by industry (salons, barbershops, gyms, etc.), but rather individually. 

For the past nine months, our Chambers of Commerce have worked with hundreds of small businesses, guiding them through unprecedented challenges. We have played a major role in helping them understand the complex issues of phasing; finding financial aid and assistance through loans, grants, and other sources; and providing a pipeline with other business people, agencies, and local elected officials. 

The small business community is the lifeblood of our local economy, and we strongly encourage our elected officials to proceed with extreme caution when making decisions that could severely impact the future of our regional economy and workforce for many years to come. We are united in saying that businesses operating safely and responsibly must be allowed to remain open! 

Finally, we strongly encourage the residents of Western New York to support our local business community not just during the holiday season but year-round, whether in-person, online, curbside, or through the purchase of gift certificates. Further, we encourage our government officials to provide immediate additional funding to help businesses recover and maintain pre-pandemic employment levels. 


Clarence Chamber of Commerce

Greater East Aurora Chamber of Commerce

Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda Chamber of Commerce

Orchard Park Chamber of Commerce

West Seneca Chamber of Commerce


Share joy! Shop Small on November 28!

Share Joy! Shop Small on November 28!

Saturday, Nov. 28 is Small Business Saturday, and this year, more than others, it’s important to support our local businesses!

The COVID pandemic, and the recent upgrade of micro-cluster zones, have taken a harsh toll on our local businesses and we need to show our support.

As we enter the holiday season, please support your local business community

If it’s safe for you, come out and shop. All of our businesses have safety procedures in place and, due to restrictions, are only allowing a certain number of shoppers inside at one time. We understand it can be frustrating, but we ask that everyone remain patient if you have to wait to enter a shop.

Also, please make sure to wear masks, wash your hands, and stay socially distant.

And, if you’re coming into East Aurora on Small Business Saturday on Nov. 28 there’s no need to worry about parking!

The Chamber reached out to Fisher-Price, which graciously agreed to let the public utilize its parking lot, located at Riley Street and Girard Avenue, for FREE! The lot provides quick access to much of the village business district.

If you can’t come out and shop in person, please remember many of our local businesses offer online shopping through websites and social media and will be offering curbside delivery or shipping. So make sure to check out your favorite shop or restaurant online!

Another way to #shoplocal is to buy gift cards from your favorite store or restaurant.

You can also purchase a Chamber Gift Certificat that can be used at a wide variety of businesses in our area. Chamber Gift Certificates can be purchased online, at www.eanycc.com, where you can also find a current list of participating businesses. You can also call us at (716) 652-8444.

Make sure to tune into 
WBBZ TV on Wednesday, Dec. 2 at 8 p.m. for our first-ever televised Carolcade 2020 Holiday Special. It will re-air on Saturday, Dec. 5 at noon and again on Sunday, Dec. 6 at 10:30 a.m. You can find WBBZ at cable channel 5 & antenna channel 67.1 on most carriers.

We hope you all stay safe and healthy this holiday season. And please – #SupportLocal!!!

How will NY’s new Sick Leave Law affect your business?

How will NY’s new Sick Leave Law affect your business?

On Sept. 30, a new state law – the New York State Sick Leave Law (NYSSL) – went into effect, mandating ALL businesses in New York – regardless of size – offer some amount of sick time to employees.On that same date, employees across the state started accruing this sick time – which can be paid or unpaid depending on business size and revenue – at a rate of one hour per 30 hours worked.

We have a simple question for you – Is your business prepared?

Two of our Chamber Members – Complete Payroll & Paychex – have been fielding many calls from local employers with questions about this new law.

“The way that it’s rolled out, every employee is eligible for the sick time whether they are full-time or part-time,” explained Rob Kropczynski, Regional Manager of Complete Payroll. “If you have a current policy in place that meets or exceeds the new mandate, that’s good. You just need to make sure you’re meeting all of the points.”

So what are the points?

  • All employees – full and part-time – started accruing sick time as of Sept. 30 at a rate of one hour per 30 hours worked.
  • For businesses with four (4) employees or less, the sick time does not have to be paid. However, if that business makes more than $1 million in revenue, employees must be given up to 40 hours of paid sick time.
  • Businesses with five (5) to 99 employees must provide up to 40 hours of accrued paid sick time. If employees accrue more, the business only has to pay for 40 hours. The amount of revenue doesn’t matter.
  • Businesses with 100 employees or more must offer 56 hours of paid sick time, regardless of revenue. This applies to non-profit organizations as well.
  • Employers can set a minimum number of hours an employee can take in one day, which cannot exceed four (4) hours.
  • Employers can ask for sick time requests in writing, but cannot ask for employees to disclose confidential information or the underlying reasons.
  • Employers cannot threaten or retaliate against employees who use their sick time.

According to Charlotte Cowley, a Payroll Consultant with Paychex, this sick time can be carried over year to year. “However, employers with fewer than 100 employees may limit an employee’s use of sick leave to 40 hours per year, and employers with 100 or more employees may limit use to 56 hours per year,” she said.

She also said that while employees accrue sick time, an employer can choose to provide their staff with the entire amount of leave at the beginning of the year. Another thing to be aware of is that this law allows employees to use the time for more reasons than just illness.

NYSSL can be used for:

  • Employee’s mental or physical illness, or injury, or diagnosis, care, treatment, or preventive care for employee’s mental or physical illness or injury;
  • Covered family member’s mental or physical illness or injury or diagnosis, care, treatment, or preventive care for a covered family member’s mental or physical illness or injury;
  • Absences related to employee’s status as a victim of domestic violence, family offense, sexual offense, stalking, or human trafficking; or
  • Absences related to a covered family member’s status as a victim of domestic violence, family offense, sexual offense, stalking, or human trafficking.

For more information on this law or for a review of your current policy, please feel free to contact representatives from either Complete Payroll or Paychex. Both companies are members of the Greater East Aurora Chamber of Commerce. Contact information can be found below, as can links to more information.

Complete Payroll
Maria Frungillo-French
Account Executive
(607) 661-3477

More information from Complete Payroll on the New York State Sick Leave Law is available on the company’s blog. Here’s a short video to learn more about Maria.

Paychex, Inc.
Charlotte Cowley
Payroll Consultant
(585) 245-2355

For more information about the law, please check out this article from Paychex.

Get up-to-date on what’s happening with the 2020 Carolcade and other Chamber initiatives.

Get up-to-date on what’s happening with the 2020 Carolcade and other Chamber initiatives.

With the Christmas holiday approaching quickly the Chamber is very happy to announce it has been working on a “shop local” holiday promotion along with a plan to commemorate the 48th Annual Carolcade in the absence of a “live” event!

In early December the Chamber, as a result of strong sponsorship support from the Bank of Holland and Vidler’s 5&10, will be featuring a half-hour Carolcade TV show on WBBZ-TV.



Two Chamber Members featured in Buffalo Magazine

Two Chamber Members Featured in Newest Edition of Buffalo Magazine


Two members of the Greater East Aurora Chamber of Commerce are featured in the newest edition of Buffalo Magazine. The Deli and Kickstand Culture are both featured in the article titled: “Hospitality meets creativity on Main Street, East Aurora.”

The article is part of a shop local series created to help keep WNY’s economy “bright and vital.”

The Deli participated in this year’s Taste of East Aurora Restaurant Week in September, which is hosted by the Chamber.

Kickstand Culture was one of the vendors at the Chamber’s annual Street Festival & Sidewalk Sale this year, which was hosted online via the Chamber’s Facebook page.

Please take a moment to read the article and share it with your family friends.

We are East Aurora Proud!

Photo credit: Buffalo Magazine

Hartloff Benefits – Empowering people to make good Healthcare and Medicare choices

Hartloff Benefits – Empowering people to make good Healthcare and Medicare choices

By Hartloff Benefits

It starts with the premise that “You are handling a Senior’s Health Insurance – you need to get it right!” The focus is always on doing the right thing for the client. As brokers we represent the client, not the insurance companies. It is crucial that we get the right plan for each client.  With over 40 Medicare Advantage plan and half a dozen Medigap plans available, there are a lot of choices!

A big part of our process is getting to know our clients.  Taking the time to learn – not just about medical needs but lifestyle and travel plans. We also need to inquire about medical history, including prescriptions, and potential future medical procedures. I have had many folks say to me – “You ask a lot of questions”. How a client answers these questions will help develop a strategy for healthcare and finding the best plan for their needs. And then when the process is completed, they say “Now I understand why you asked so many questions, this plan fits me!”

Encouraging clients to ask questions is a key part of the process. Learning is a two-way street.  We want our clients to learn about the Agency and learn about the myriad of options they have. Many times, spouses will not only have different plans but may use different insurance companies. Often, we must explain that the plan your friend or neighbor said is the “best plan out there”, just is not right for them. We do not believe that there is a “one size fits all”.

April Hartloff, owner of Hartloff Benefit Solutions LLC constantly says, “We must empower our clients to make good Healthcare and Medicare choices”. It is important that we educate clients not just on the plans, but how the plans work. During our process, we ensure that people know the differences between the Advantage plans, Medigap plan, and Part D Drug Plans.   We believe that if the client does not understand their plan, they are not able to take full advantage of the benefits.

For us, we start the process six months prior to Medicare eligibility. This can be as simple as discussing whether they even need to enroll in Medicare, or if it would be more beneficial to stay in their health insurance through work. We “pencil it out”, meaning that we look for the best coverage that is most cost-effective. People need to know what their options are, what is most cost-effective, and understand the differences between Health Insurance through the workplace and Medicare. This is empowering clients in their decision making.

At Hartloff Benefit Solutions, we believe that as Employee Benefits brokers, we have a distinctive edge in that we know and understand workplace Health Insurance.  By knowing the type of coverage, the employee has at work, we can ease the transition to Medicare. By keeping our focus on Employee Benefits and Medicare, we are not “product pushing”. Unlike some Agencies that try to sell everything, including the kitchen sink, we stay focused on Benefits and Medicare. We certainly have strategic partners for other insurances and financial products that we refer our clients to.

In addition, we do not “sell” Medicare plans. Our job is to follow our back to basics process: Listen, question, learn, help design, and ultimately enroll a client in the correct plan. By utilizing a consultative process, there simply is no selling.

Our clients know that the process does not end right after enrolling in plans. It is important to clients that we are available all year.  We are not a transaction-oriented business, we want our clients to be friends of the Agency. By having constant contact with people, they know that they can reach out to us at any time, and they appreciate our reminders to utilize benefits. One of April’s rules is that Reps have cell numbers on their business cards.  She says: “People don’t just have issues 9-5, People have problems after 5 pm and on weekends.  It is very gratifying to know you helped someone on a Saturday morning or Sunday afternoon!”

Over the past seven months, we made sure to regularly reach out to clients via emails, postcards, and even regular mail. With the COVID-19 shutdown, many folks were feeling isolated, and it was important that we let them know we are here!

We believe that our process is ever-evolving and retooling to be the best possible Medicare Reps that we can be.  We encourage feedback from our clients so that we add things to the process so that Hartloff Benefit Solutions LLC becomes even better., making the process easier for those currently in Medicare and those soon to enroll in Medicare.

Hartloff Benefits Solutions LLC is located at 7000 Seneca St, Elma, NY. They can be reached at 716-655-5901. For more information, please visit www.hartloffbenefits.com.

Brenda Babe Bridal Celebrates Anniversary with New Collections and Exciting Promotion

Brenda Babe Bridal Celebrates Anniversary with New Collections and Exciting Promotion

Brenda Babe Bridal, located at 695 Main Street (rear) in East Aurora, NY.is pleased to make some exciting announcements in celebration of the shoppe’s two-year anniversary.

The shoppe, which features wedding dresses “for the uniquely fabulous bride-to-be”, focuses on celebrating the “inner babe” of the clients it serves through a true one-on-one individualized experience. Since the shoppe is open “by appointment”, every appointment is just that-a totally private shopping session for the bride-to-be and her guests.

“The bridal industry, specifically right here in Western New York, is in a unique and transformative time right now,” stated Brenda Mikolajczak, the shoppe’s owner.  “The COVID crisis has certainly impacted many facets of our industry, causing couples to re-imagine their big day into more non-traditional celebrations of love. The demand for truly unique wedding dresses that capture the individual style and personality of the bride-to-be is steadily increasing and we are thrilled to be able to accommodate these evolving trends with the carefully curated collections that I personally select from our fabulous designers. As part of our two-year anniversary celebration, we are thrilled to add a size-inclusive bridal separates collection and bridesmaids dresses to our current designer lines to further accommodate the specific needs of our brides-to-be.”

In addition to expanding dress options for both brides and bridesmaids, Brenda Babe Bridal is also running an exciting promotion, offering brides-to-be who “Say Yes” during the month of November, $100.00 off of the purchase of their special order wedding dress. Full details on all of the “Brenda Babe-Tastic” anniversary promotions can be found at brendababebridal.com.

In these uncertain times, Brenda Babe Bridal is committed to reassuring brides-to-be that their search for the perfect dress should still be a memorable and enjoyable experience. The shoppe is set up to accommodate private appointments only, in a relaxed and fun atmosphere, following CDC guidelines for the health and safety of employees and guests.

Brenda Babe Bridal is open “by appointment”.  Contact the shoppe at 655.LOVE(5683) or visit brendababebridal.com to schedule an individualized shopping experience.

About Brenda Babe Bridal, LLC
Brenda Babe Bridal, LLC is a bridal shoppe located at 695 Main Street (rear) in East Aurora, NY. serving brides throughout Western New York and the surrounding communities, Say YES to the perfect dress and rock your inner babe at Brenda Babe Bridal. Featuring designer gowns and accessories to capture your individual style-from simple to sassy, and classic to contemporary. Also dresses for moms, bridesmaids, galas, destination weddings and encore brides.  Additional information about Brenda Babe Bridal is available at www.brendababebridal.com.

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