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Holidays bring big boost for Rochester small businesses

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — The most wonderful time of the year is also the busiest for small businesses, especially as holiday festivals return.

During the holidays, running an all-natural soap business is an all-day job.

“It’s when you wake up until you go to bed, pretty much,” said Rebecca Engert, owner of KB White Farm. “It’s a passion. And it’s my customers, I think, are the things that drive me the most.”

KB White Farm started with just chickens and goats, but it grew when Engert started using farm products to make soaps for her family.

“I started bringing some into work and bringing things to family members and friends and stuff,” Engert said. “And people loved it, they wanted more.”

Now her soaps are sold online, in stores and at public markets across the Finger Lakes.

“People appreciate the small business,” she said. “They want to buy from local and small family businesses.”

This time of year, there are a lot of holiday shows to keep them busy too. The whole family pitches in, like Rebecca’s husband, Kevin.

“It’s the best thing in the world,” said Engert. “We have so much fun and we just laugh and eat and do everything together. It’s really kind of united us.”

They’re both excited for the return of ROC Holiday Village, the annual holiday festival in downtown Rochester.

“It feels like a big city, without it being a big city,” said Kevin Engert. “You just come down here and there’s stuff for everybody. And there’s a variety of vendors and crafters like us.”

And with the addition of Holidays at the Market and other festivals in Canandaigua and Buffalo, the running never stops.

Kevin said these holiday events are always a lot of fun.

“People stop over just to hang out, and we stop what we’re doing to hang out,” Kevin said. “And you can’t do that, I couldn’t do that, working a 9 to 5. My wife couldn’t do it.”

So as more events return, he hopes everyone else makes the most of them too.

“It didn’t feel like the holidays last year,” Kevin said. “So I’m hoping this, events like this will kind of bring that spirit back a little bit. Which, who doesn’t like a little holiday spirit?”

There’s still time to shop locally to find some last-minute gifts.

Shopping at Roc Holiday Village in Manhattan Square Park will be open through Dec. 19.

Hours are from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday; Friday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

And the last day for Holidays at the Public Market is Thursday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The market will be open for regular hours again starting Saturday.

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