40+ small businesses, artists show off wares at Shop Til You Drop holiday expo

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Schweigart’s Sugar Shack owners set up booth for second day a Colonie Center’s Shop Til You Drop holiday expo on December 22, 2019. [WTEN]

CAPITAL REGION, N.Y. (NEWS10)– Colonie Center shoppers have 40 more options to choose from, courtesy of the Shop Til You Drop holiday expo this weekend.

“It features local artists, crafters, small businesses, and it really gives them the opportunity to pop up and showcase some of their unique creativity in a large scale venue like Colonie Center,” explains Colonie Center representative Marissa McCarren.

The homegrown, New York vendors say being part of the mall traffic makes all the difference for business, especially with this being the last weekend for holiday shoppers.

“We are selling out of a lot of things. We’ve sold out of sugar candy, maple cream, and we’ve sold out of several products that we offer,” says George Schweigart, owner of Schweigart’s Sugar Shack.

Schweigart’s booth features a variety of maple sugar products, all made from what’s grown on his farm.

“There are a lot of maple producers, but with sets us apart and makes us different is our side products. We do maple 31 ways,” he explains to NEWS10’s Mikhaela Singleton.

Donnie Alecci with Ashley Lynn Winery makes a sale to a holiday shopper at Colonie Center’s Shop Til You Drop holiday expo on December 22, 2019. [WTEN]

The booths feature everything from artful statues chainsaw-carved in Hoosick Falls, to powerful protein peanut butter made across the street in Colonie, and even artisan New York wine. These vendors say they also hope an event like Shop Til You Drop will put them on the map.

“We’re a small farm family winery and to get our product out to the public, it’s nice to come to events like this where people come looking to buy things and support farm and other crafters and that sort of thing,” says Donnie Alecci of Ashely Lynn Winery.

“This puts us in front of so many more people that we wouldn’t otherwise be in front of. You know, there’s so many people don’t really know about us in the Capital District,” explains Gabe Mitchell, owner of Power Surge Nutrition and Wellness.

Mitchell is also a teacher at Colonie High School. He says his passion for creating an all natural, local protein peanut butter is seeing the needs of the young athletes he works with.

Gabe Mitchell’s display of Power Surge protein peanut butter, all naturally made in Colonie, at the Colonie Center’s Shop Til You Drop holiday expo on December 22, 2019. [WTEN]

“We want to put out a clean product, and I wouldn’t put out a product that I wouldn’t feed my son. So seeing all these athletes, young athletes some of them six years old all the way to college, we want to give them something good that will help them grow,” he says.

Alecci says Ashley Lynne Winery has been doing well at the Shop Til You Drop weekend holiday expo by bringing in a new twist to a popular drink.

“We did so well with wine slushies selling at the New York State festival, we came up with the idea to put them in bottles and make kits so you can make the slushies at home,” he says.

NEWS10 also dropped in on Ray Willsey’s booth for Rayzor’s Edge in Hoosick Falls. Willsey made a name for himself creating unique, wooden sculptures with a chainsaw.

A line of wooden carved bears and owls wait to greet holiday shoppers stopping by the Rayzor’s Edge booth at Colonie Center’s Shop Til You Drop holiday expo on December 22, 2019. [WTEN]

“People come up to watch, I give them goggles and tell them to be careful since there’s wood flying around, but they love it,” he explains.

Willsey also found a way to make sure none of the wood in his statues goes to waste.

“A lot of people do the bare statues,” he says gesturing to a line of bear welcome statues. “But I would always have a lot of extra wood pieces laying around and I started to think what I could do with them.”

“So I started making all the little owls,” he says indicating a line of hanging wood slices with owls carved into the bark.

One of the lead organizers for Shop Til You Drop is JB Enterprises Show Promotions. Jeannie Guthrie works closely with small businesses and artists wherever she can find them across New York to put shows like the one at Colonie Center on display all over the state.

“It plants a lot of seeds for their futures, in the sense that people get to meet them, recognize their work, some of them are actually doing drawings or carvings while they’re here, so they get to build that confidence in perhaps getting a small business space, doing a pop up, or a kiosk in the malls,” explains Guthrie.

Shop Til You Drop continues until 7 p.m. Sunday.

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