Here's the Scoop: January 22, 2014

There’s no place like Home Goods...
A little chapter in local history will soon come to a close when Dorothy Maffei steps down as owner of Home Goods of Margaretville (HGM).
In a small town, businesses come and go. In fact, the “go” enterprises somehow seem to outnumber the arrivals. As opposed to mega-malls, shopping in rural areas usually offers a much different type of experience. Stores are often unique. Owners usually know your name.
That was certainly the case with Dorothy. I actually met Dorothy years before she opened HGM. I knew her much better after she went into the retail business. I am certainly no chef, but I do enjoy eating. My wife and daughter are great cooks, in my humble opinion, so HGM was a natural shopping spot for me. Holidays and birthdays, HGM has almost long been a favorite shopping stop for me.
Dorothy, of course, grew to know my habits were well: Brian will stop in a few days before __________ (fill in the blank for occasion) and ask for advice. Will also need help remembering what items he has bought here in the past.

Has what it takes
HGM has been a successful business for the past 18 years precisely because Dorothy remembered all of these elements — for me and many others. And, she was always willing to help. Hers was never a “sales pitch.” No, her advice was based on knowledge of me (cheap) and knowing my wife and daughter. It was a perfect combo.
Over the years, I have profiled countless “new businesses” for this newspaper. I’d say I have a pretty good sense of how many of these enterprises will “make it.” When Dorothy announced that she was opening HGM, I confess to not having an abundance of confidence about the long-term prospects. Ironically, interviewing her this week about the imminent closing, she recalls having those same doubts. It’s nice to be wrong, sometimes.
A good sign for a business, I think, is when patrons often don’t call it by its proper name, but instead state something like, “I’ll bet they have that at Dorothy’s.” Nobody ever had to ask: Dorothy who? She’s become like Madonna — except her costume changes were usually no more outrageous than trying out a new apron.

Firsthand experience
In fact, learning about nearly every one of her products through firsthand experience was one of the keys to Dorothy’s success — that and a genuinely friendly attitude that always made customers feel welcome.
Unlike the days when business owners would proclaim things like, “I owned my place for 53 years and never took a day of vacation,” Dorothy has chosen not to challenge any longevity records. She has decided to pursue other long-held interests and begin a new adventure in her life.
Dorothy laughed this week as she realized that Home Goods of Margaretville had become one of the stable, anchor businesses in the community. It’s not something she envisioned when she decided to set up shop.
Stores like Dorothy’s are what help define our villages and hamlets. Dorothy developed a recipe for success and she will leave behind a very positive legacy on residents and visitors alike. Holidays and birthdays won’t quite be the same for me.
— Brian Sweeney