News of Otsego County

Serving Otsego County, NY, through the combined reporting of Cooperstown's Freeman's Journal and the Hometown Oneonta newspapers.

Luisa Montanti

Pop-Ups Will Help Pep Up Southside Mall

Pop-Ups Will Help

Pep Up Southside Mall

Cathy Verrelli puts a festive apron on Martin the giraffe outside of Theresa’s Emporium
Pop-Up shop at the Southside Mall. (Ian Austin/

By LIBBY CUDMORE• Special to

ONEONTA – There’s only one place you can get board games, maple syrup, artisan jewelry and a new tattoo – Southside Mall.

“We’re a small mall, but what we have is a large shopping experience,” said Luisa Montanti, Southside Mall general manager.

Starting Black Friday, the mall welcomed 16 artisans and local food producers to set up tables to sell their wares, including Caribou Creek Knives, Rusted Root Metals and more.

The tables will be at the mall every weekend throughout December, offering a variety of gifts.

“Caribou Creek has all these hand-crafted knives and decorative blades, including ones for hunting and cutting meat, or even cutting salad,” said Montanti. “And I bought myself a fancy bracelet from Lynn Price, that makes all this jewelry out of antique buttons. It’s all one-of-a-kind, and that’s what I love about it.”

The idea of bringing in tables at Christmas grew out of the mall’s annual Craft & Vendor Fair. “The artisans always say what a great weekend they have here,” said the manager. “And what’s great is that they’re all unique, so we’re not duplicating shops we already have. There really is something for everyone.”

To launch the Christmas season, dancing mice from Decker School of Ballet made an appearance Saturday, Nov. 30.

And, of course, Santa Claus, available for visits and photos, will visit from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. each Saturday and Sunday until Dec. 23.

Also new this season is Luncheons & Dragons, a game store that relocated from the West End, now in the former FYE storefront.

“I was really impressed at just how large a selection of games they have and that they’re so knowledgeable about board games,” she said. “And they also have tables where you can sit down and play a game, or join one that’s already in progress. Their philosophy is that they wanted to create a space where people could congregate.”

Another staple, Black Tree Books, has re-opened under new ownership, and, for the person who already has everything, Something Wicked Tattoo will open this week.

Several local Christmas pop-up stores are returning, including Theresa’s Emporium, in the old Etc., Etc. storefront, the Go Calendar, Games & Toys kiosk, and Fire & Thunder Trading.

“Fire & Thunder has one of the largest selections of Native American jewelry and textiles,” Montanti said. “The owner tours trade shows all year, and then comes to the mall every year at the holidays because he has a great following. People look for him.”

Though the holidays are generally the strongest time for retailers, Montanti said store managers are reporting that sales have been up throughout the whole year.

“So many of them have come to me and said how great their gains have been,” she said. “I’d say it’s anywhere between 12-30 percent for the year. The mall is seeing a huge success, and I think other stores want to be a part of that.”

Kaytee Shue, Candidate For Council, Good Manager

Kaytee Shue, Candidate

For Council, Good Manager

To the Editor:

I wanted to introduce you to Kaytee Lipari Shue, a professional colleague of mine, and also a lifelong 30 year resident of Ward 4. Kaytee, with her husband Jared, as new parents moved back to Oneonta to ensure their family would have the same rewarding experiences that Kaytee had growing up.   Born and raised in Ward 4, Kaytee has the understanding, strength and a commitment to seek solutions to grow the center city community that we can all be proud of.

Kaytee has over 12 years in management and has the keen ability to uncover the root cause of any concerns and will find the solution to fix the issues. In her management positions, she developed strong teams and maintained her Maurice’s store ranking in  the top of the Northeast Region, while also growing the store brand and gross sales.

In working daily with Kaytee for over seven years, I know from experience her strong leadership skills are above expectations and her commitment to getting the issues resolved is what we need in Ward 4.

Kaytee is very personable, has great communication skills and is extremely responsible. Kaytee has a lifelong connection to our entire community and will seek out the resources to provide the 4th Ward residents’ with the support and the solutions that WE are looking for.

Please join us 9:30-11:30 a.m. this Saturday, June 22, at Latte Lounge Express & Lizard Lick Ice Cream located on Dietz Street, Come and meet Kaytee Lipari Shue the candidate that I am endorsing!

And vote at Foothills, noon-9 p.m. Tuesday, June 25.



100 Brides Dream Of That Happy Day


100 Brides Dream

Of That Happy Day

A hundred brides, up from 60 last year, descended on Foothills’ annual Bridal Expo this afternoon in the Atrium of the Oneonta venue. They came from as far away as the Cherry Valley area –  in top photo, Lisa Bullis and Adam Prime of Salt Springville examine Cakes by Maryann – to Walton – lower left, where bride-to-be Becky Hogencamp, right, samples Celebration Creations’ chocolates with Maid of Honor Anna Rifenbark of Davenport, center, and bridesmaid Kim Demeo, up from Long Island.  Lower right, Kathryn M. Kroll is surrounded by her offerings from Oneonta’s Coddington Florist.  Organizer Luisa Montanti said 48 vendors participated this year, up from 30, and more than 350 people came through the doors for the two-hour event.  (Jim Kevlin/
Montanti, Balnis, Morales Oneonta’s 2017 Trailblazers

Montanti, Balnis, Morales

Oneonta’s 2017 Trailblazers

Luisa Montanti
Carla Balnis

ONEONTA – Joyce Miller, chair of the city Commission on Community Relations & Human Rights, announced the winners of this year’s Woman Trailblazers Award a few minutes ago:

  • OVER 25

LUISA MONTANTI, Southside Mall general manager, who has served on the Foothills, Destination Oneonta and other civic boards, promoting a range of community activities.

Shopping Local With Libby: You Need It? Mall Has It

Shopping Local With Libby:

You Need It? Mall Has It!


Edition of Thursday-Friday, Dec. 18-19, 2014


Away from the cold weather, Zakk Dann, manager of FYE, has created a Frozen winter wonderland inside his store. (Ian Austin/
Away from the cold weather, Zakk Dann, manager of FYE, has created a Frozen winter wonderland inside his store. (Ian Austin/

As we get deeper into chilly December and Christmas gets closer, the Southside Mall offers two great incentives to shop – it has something for everyone, and it’s all under one roof.

“If you need it, you’ll find it at the Southside Mall,” said Mall Manager Luisa Montanti. “There’s a great selection for everyone.”

I’m not one of those people who goes to the movies on Christmas, but I do love a good film … and even more than that, the book it was based on! “We have a lot of people who see the movie, then come over and buy the book,” said Katrina Vega, owner of Black Tree Books, a few storefronts over from Southside Mall Cinemas. “When we know a movie is about to open, we stock up on extra copies, because we usually sell out.”

Black Tree also carries plenty of vintage pulp paperbacks and hard-to-find books. “We’ve got a lot of out-of-print baseball books,” she said.

If you’ve still got room on your tree, Wendy Nirschl brings her hand-painted wooden ornaments out of Etsy and into her Southside Mall kiosk, outside Radio Shack. “The cats and the cosmos are new designs this year,” said Tori Rifanburg, who was manning the booth on Sunday, Dec. 14. “I love this one of the cats decorating the tree, because that’s what they do – you put all the ornaments on, and they ‘redecorate’ while you’re gone.”

Tori also had her line of jewelry out, all made from vintage beads. “I love finding weird buttons and beads and finding new ways to use them!” she said. “It adds a personal touch.”

Like Tori, Jamie Wagner at Maurice’s knows all about sparkle and glam. “Statement jewelry is huge this season,” she said. “If you’re wearing just a simple shirt, a big necklace pulls your whole outfit together.”

Maybe it’s a little early for me to be thinking about New Year’s Eve, but all the sparkly, glittery outfits they had on the mannequins made me plan right past Christmas! “You take one of these silver glittery tanks, pair it with a jacket and heels, and you’ve got your party look,” she said. “It’s super easy.”

But maybe the guys in my family wouldn’t be interested in a gem-cluttered clutch, so it’s over to FYE. “We’ve got our toys in for the holidays,” said manager Zach Dann. “We’ve got blankets, ornaments and hats for ’The Walking Dead,’ ‘Breaking Bad,’ and especially ‘Dr. Who.’ We had a ‘Dr. Who’ toothbrush, but we sold out of it.”

Not sure I need a Dalek ornament on my tree or a zombie blanket on my couch, but I know plenty of people who do.
And don’t forget your furry family members. “We’ve got coats and sweaters, and plenty of toys!” said Petco manager Dennis Powell. “Laser lights are really popular – cats love them, but so do dogs, birds, even fish will chase them.”

And if you don’t have a fluffy friend, Petco can help with that too, cooperating with local adoption agencies to help shelter pets find good homes. Can I get this tabby cat gift-wrapped, please?


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