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Chamber’s Eisenhower Lock Gift Shop open, but hard to see because of construction

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MASSENA - The Greater Massena Chamber of Commerce’s gift shop at Eisenhower Lock is open for the season.

It’s just a little harder to see than it has been in past years because of construction.

“We have a few issues with people not realizing they can go there. They’re doing construction Before you could see the Visitor’s Center. Now you can’t see it,” chamber Associate Director Penny Pullmain told chamber board members during their recent meeting.

She said chamber Director Kathleen Kelly-Ori has put out signs to indicate that the gift shop is open. The shop is open seven days a week until the locks closes over Labor Day weekend in September.

The shop itself is getting well-stocked for the summer, according to Ms. Pullmain.

“We’re getting some different things. We’re getting there. A report last week said things were running about the same,” she said.

The locks gift shop opened again this year after taking a one-year hiatus. They had opted not to open their gift ship in the summer of 2013 because the locks did not open on schedule. The shop sells local memorabilia and snacks, as well as provides information on the local area.

Eisenhower Lock typically opens for the season during the Memorial Day weekend at the end of May, and the season runs until Labor Day. But because of on-going facility maintenance to repair damages caused by the winter weather, it did not open until the end of June last summer.

Because they didn’t believe it would be financially feasible to open that later in the season, chamber board members instead opted not to open the store last summer. They were also concerned about a lack of funding for employees to manage the shop. Employees who staff the gift shop are paid for through casino gaming compact funds provided by the town of Massena to the chamber, and those funds were not available at the beginning of the summer season.

Ms. Pullmain also reported on the recent Heritage Festival, noting that, although they did well, the number of visitors was down for the event.

“We did not do as well as we normally do. Attendance was down. It was a big crowd, but not as big,” she said.

Ms. Pullmain said it may have been because of a couple of factors, including other activities taking place the same day and the weather, which was conducive to outdoor activities.

“The weather hurt us. We need a cloudy day with that threat of rain,” she said.

The number of vendors, meanwhile, stayed steady, and they had some new people on hand, she said.

“There seemed like a lot of fundraising. There was more of it this year than normal. But we don’t have a problem with it,” Ms. Pullmain said.

She suggested that they might consider some changes to the event in the future.

“Maybe we need to look at setting up different inside,” she said.

Board President Miriam S. Catapano agreed.

“It has changed over the years. Maybe it needs to evolve again,” she said.

Mrs. Catapano suggested that they look at their entertainment offerings.

“I think we have to look at some of the entertainment. In the past it has drawn people down,” she said.

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