The news headlines about the global economy reflect a grim reality; widespread turmoil in economic markets, high unemployment and an overall ennui about the potential for the U.S. economy to recover from one of the most enduring recessions in decades.
According to the latest information released by the U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Economic Analysis, real disposable income decreased by approximately .3 percent in August, .1 percent higher than the decrease in July. Personal expenditures also decreased in August by less than one percent, in contrast to an increase of .4 percent in July.
Closer to home, these statistics are made glaringly obvious by vacancy signs and empty storefronts on small town main streets.
One local business that defies these statistics after nearly five decades is in Larchmont. Located between —another longtime Larchmont fixture—and the the store has been an exclusive supplier of Benjamin Moore paint, custom window treatments and stains since Nov. 10, 1966.
According to easygoing Village Paint owner Danny Goetze, the secret to success is simple. Treat your customers well—and don’t interrupt them while they’re telling a story—and they will come back.
“We just do our job..we’re always nice and pleasant and make it a good buying experience,” he said, adding,” They can’t come in here and get a no from us—we’ll always get to the answer.”
Although personalized service and dealing with familiar faces may be reasons that customers choose to shop locally, Village Paint will also go toe to toe with big box stores like Home Depot and Lowes on price differentials as well.
“Half a loaf is better than no loaf,” said Goetze, tidily summarizing his philosophy on doing business.
Familiar faces include Skip Pennucci, a 26-year Village Paint employee and Mamaroneck resident whose tenure seemed to echo the kind of laid-back and fun work atmosphere Goetze has cultivated. Affectionately, he said, “Once you join you can’t get out.”
One thing that no one minced words about was the effect of the economic downturn on business.
“This is as bad as I’ve ever seen it,” Pennucci said regarding the state of the economy. He added that with fewer construction and home improvement projects on the horizon, the volume of sales has decreased.
“It hasn’t been easy—I just go day by day sometimes,” said Danny, echoing the sentiments of other Larchmont business owners.
Goetze is the fourth owner of Village Paint, which has been in business under different ownership since the end of World War II.
It probably doesn’t hurt that Goetze is also a bona fide member of the local community, having resided in Mamaroneck his entire life. His brother Bobby runs ’s Mamaroneck location on 365 Mamaroneck Ave., which opened on June 16, 1961.
Having been in business so long means Danny has seen generations of Larchmont children grow up and bring their own children back into the store, carrying on the traditions of their own youth.
“I have grandchildren coming in who have bought homes—I remember them coming in with their parents,” he said.
Clad in the same blue Village Paint shirt as his employees, Danny is easily accessible to his customers either behind the counter or in his back office. Customers linger at counters to stop and chat or to get advice on home improvement projects.
The fate of the U.S. economy uncertain, one hopes that outcome for small businesses everywhere like Village Paint will be positive and that customers will continue their patronage in order to keep Main Street intact.
“We need the economy to come back,” said Danny simply.
Village Paint Supply is located on 2084 Boston Post Rd. in Larchmont, (914) 834-3300. The store has parking in the back. The store will be celebrating it's anniversary with an official ceremony on Oct. 28 at 10 a.m. at the store. Another party will follow on Oct. 29, from 1-4 p.m. The Mamaroneck store, located on 365 Mamaroneck Ave., will celebrate it's 50th anniversary on Nov. 12 between 1-4 p.m.