CAZENOVIA — This spring, Cazenovia’s 20|EAST farm store at 85 Albany St. was named “Madison County Small Business of the Year” by the Small Business Development Center at Onondaga Community College (SBDC).
The SBDC offers no-cost, confidential business advisement services to individuals and companies throughout Cayuga, Cortland, Madison, Onondaga, Oswego, and Seneca counties.
In celebration of National Small Business Week (May 1-7), the center presented “Small Business of The Year” awards to one business in each of the six counties it serves.
20|EAST is owned and operated by McKenzie Houseman, who also runs her family business, Cazenovia Cut Block, out of the same space.
Houseman and her late brother, self-taught woodworker Tim Hughes, launched Cazenovia Cut Block at the local farmers’ market in 2009.
Soon, customers started calling in the middle of the week to order items for pick-up at the market. They also began requesting expanded offerings, such as custom countertops, tables, and butcher block islands.
In 2010, the Cazenovia Cut Block showroom opened at 4157 Midstate Lane, just off Route 20 East, and in 2015, production moved to a warehouse at the same location.
In addition to selling cutting boards, bowls, wood islands, countertops, tables, and other custom pieces, the showroom also started carrying other items produced by local artisans and craftsmen.
When Houseman opened 20|EAST on Albany Street in 2017, she further expanded her offerings to include Cazenovia Cut Block wood items, gifts, art, artisan products, fresh flowers, and numerous food items from all over Central New York.
“My vision for 20|EAST and Cazenovia Cut Block is to continue to support as many local businesses as I can,” said Houseman. “I want to continue to find new and interesting items to always have something exciting for my customers. I will continue to be a ‘Collector of Stories’ for all the food and gifts that are made by talented artists and makers. These stories are what make us special and make the buyer so excited to give their gift or keep it for themselves.”
Houseman also said she is excited to continue to be part of the local business community.
“We have all gotten together to create ‘The pulse of Caz’ page on Instagram and Facebook,” she said. “It is called Eat Shop Play Caz. Our goal is to encourage people to come spend a day or weekend checking out everything we have to offer. There is so much.”
SBDC Regional Director Bob Griffin and Paul Brooks, a certified business advisor for SBDC, presented the Madison County Small Business of the Year award to Houseman at her shop on May 3.
“I was completely blown away [by the news]” Houseman recalled. “I did not even know I was being considered. It seemed extra special as it is my five-year anniversary on Main Street. I have also been receiving treatment for my second go around with breast cancer since November 2021. I have not been able to work as much as I would like, and receiving the award meant so much.”
According to Brooks, SBDC based its decision on the business’ growth and sustainability, as well as its impact on the community.
“Five years in business and [20|EAST] has become the go-to business in the community for almost whatever you need,” said Brooks. “We were also impressed with McKenzie’s outstanding use of social media and digital resources to promote.”
All the 2022 Small Business of The Year honorees have, at some point, been assisted by the SBDC to start or grow their small businesses.
Brooks’ predecessor, Melissa Davis — who now serves as an agriculture economic development specialist with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Madison County — advised Houseman early on when she started the business on Route 20.
Houseman described SBDC as a wonderful resource.
“They helped me create a business plan years ago to secure a government grant through NY state,” she said. “That can be a very daunting task, and they helped me all the way through.”
To learn more about 20|EAST and Cazenovia Cut Block, visit 20-east.com.
The SBDC advisor team has nearly 200 years of collective business and business advisement experience. They provide customized solutions through advisement, education, research, and advocacy for entrepreneurs, innovators, and the small and medium enterprise community. Between 2019 and 2021, the team assisted more than 3,400 clients, 400 of which started new businesses; supported the creation or protection of more than 8300 jobs; and aided entrepreneurs in securing more than $63 million in investment, including loans, grants, or other private financing. The SBDC is funded by the US Small Business Administration and the State of New York.
For more information, visit onondagasbdc.org.