Senator Lesser tours local businesses to encourage people to “shop small”

The tour was organized by the East of the River Five-Town Chamber of Commerce.

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – State Senator Eric Lesser took a tour of small businesses today to try and encourage holiday shoppers to buy local.

22News met up with Lesser at the Village Food Mart in Hampden. The current owner has controlled the business for more than 30 years.

It’s one of the few small independent grocers that remains open in an era of big box stores and retail chains.

The store’s owner told 22News he gets great community support, but finds it challenging to pay health insurance costs for his employees– something Lesser said needs to be addressed.

“We’ve gotta do something about health insurance, it’s completely out of control,” Lesser said. “The costs are way out of control. When you are a big business you can pool costs more effectively, but that’s tough obviously when you are a small business.”

“I think we are one of a kind,” owner of Village Food Mart Gary Mayotte said. “We give people a reason to come to a store like this. Our prices are great, our quality is superior and service is great too.”

Senator Lesser talked about the need to give small businesses better tax incentives.

He toured 5 businesses today including Arnold’s Meats, the Lupa Zoo, Pop’s Biscotti and Chocolates, and Fleet Feet Sports.

The tour was organized by the East of the River Five-Town Chamber of Commerce.