June 9, 2013

General Trading Company celebrates 20 years


PLATTSBURGH — General Trading Company is celebrating 20 years in business next weekend.

Owner Susan Coffey said the store will host a celebration of that milestone on June 14 and 15. It will include giveaways, drawings, prizes, discounts and refreshments.

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A Vera Bradley representative is expected to be on hand to preview the company’s fall patterns. Gary Peacock is scheduled to provide DJ services and emcee trivia contests.

“There will be quite a few fun things,” Coffey said.

Opened in plaza

She opened the store in Plattsburgh Plaza in June 1993 when she was looking for a change from her job with a local accounting firm.

“I had the idea to open a gift shop,” Coffey said.

The inventory has changed quite a bit during 20 years, she said.

It was centered more on home decor at that time. While General Trading continues to offer those types of products, clothing, jewelry and accents are a much bigger part of the mix now.

“We still do well with gifts, but I never imagined we would be selling clothing and jewelry,” she said.

Pandora jewelry has been a popular item since she started to carry it about seven years ago. Coffey heard about it from her daughter, who was on her honeymoon in the Caribbean and saw it in a storefront display.

She later saw it at the annual Atlanta Gift Show and has carried it in Plattsburgh ever since.

“That was the start of a great product here,” Coffey said.

Vera Bradley products are also very popular, she said, and have been available at General Trading for about 10 years.

“They are constantly introducing new patterns and styles,” Coffey said. 

Other items popular

Brighton handbags and jewelry are popular with her customers as well. She said Vera Bradley and Brighton products are not sold in Canada, so those help draw many Canadian customers to the store.

General Trading also carries several varieties of gourmet foods, such as Maine-based Stonewall Kitchen products. Coffey said she also likes to concentrate on locally produced products, such as Whiteface Mountain barbecue sauces and vinaigrette dressings.

She also carries chocolates from Wilmington-based Adirondack Chocolates and Burlington-based Lake Champlain Chocolates, as well as maple confections from Whiteface Mountain Gourmet.

Coffey said she tries to focus on clothing made in the United States and is pleased to see more of that manufacturing returning to North America. 

The store has two big events every year. Those are the Summer Sidewalk Sale (scheduled for July 19-20) and the Christmas Open House, with several decorated Christmas trees helping provide the holiday spirit.

Coffey thanked her many loyal customers for their support during the 20 years in business.

Plattsburgh Plaza, which had a Grand Union supermarket and other businesses at the time, was very busy then, Coffey said. The business district slowly moved to the west along Route 3, which helped Coffey make the decision to move to Perrywinkle’s Plaza on Smithfield Boulevard in the Town of Plattsburgh in 2008.

”Being up here on Smithfield (Boulevard) has made a big difference,” she said, citing increased traffic and visibility.

General Trading has about 10 employees, but that number varies with the seasons.

General Trading is open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

Other services offered

The store offers daily UPS service, free gift wrapping, a bridal registry, made-to-order gift baskets, gift certificates and accepts phone orders at 566-7618.

Payment can be made by cash, check or major credit card.

More information is available at or on the General Trading Facebook page.

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