Your BottomLine Text Version

SeaComm Business Newsletter

1st Edition 2024


Downtown Massena has experienced a resurgence over the last several years, with plenty of new businesses filling once-empty storefronts. Spencer Beckstead, a Massena native and owner of High Point clothing store, is one of many small business owners in the community who have contributed to this new growth.

Spencer opened High Point in November 2022. The location, which was previously an eye care office, had been remodeled into a clothing shop, so the storefront and interior were ideal. “I really wanted to open up a store and do something in downtown Massena,” Spencer said. The store specializes in athletic and casual wear for both men and women. You can also find a variety of other items as you shop, including candles, hats, sunglasses and much more. Recently, High Point became an authorized retailer for Lululemon, a popular active wear brand. The authorized retailer status allows the store to sell a broad variety of a certain brand’s clothing items and products. Spencer leases the space and has turned it into a family business, working with his mother, Paula. Spencer noted that he can always count on his family. “I’ve got a lot of support from my parents,” he said.

When it comes to running the business, Spencer is happiest when he has the opportunity to meet and interact with his clientele. “The customers are one hundred percent my favorite part. I love helping them out. There has been a lot of support locally and they have been very appreciative,” said Spencer. While working with people and getting them what they need is a fun part of the job, owning a small business is not easy, and there are challenges along the way. “There will always be challenges with owning a business, especially when the goal is to bring back the level of commerce that once existed downtown,” said Spencer. “It will be hard work, but so rewarding to see downtown Massena thrive again.”

Local residents have embraced High Point as one of the preferred specialty clothing retailers in the community. While word of mouth can be very helpful for a small business that is looking to grow, having a good handle on the finances is another important component. Opening a business while working with a financial institution that you can count on alleviates some of the difficulties. Spencer had already been a member of SeaComm before he opened High Point. He decided to go with a local financial institution he was familiar with, and open up a business account. Spencer noted, “SeaComm made it very easy to set up a business account. It’s right here in town and I’ve been a member with them since I was a kid.” The ease and convenience provided by his credit union helped Spencer start the business he wanted.

If you’re in the market for stylish, brand name active wear, look no further than High Point located at 48 Main Street in Massena. The shop is open Monday, 11am-5pm, and Wednesday through Saturday, 11am-5pm. For more updates and to view the latest in stock, follow them on Facebook @HighPointMassena

"My basic principle is that you don't make decisions because they are easy; you don't make them because they are cheap; and you don't make them because they are popular. You make them because they are right."
-Theodore Hesburgh

Manager's Notebook

How Much Absenteeism Can Harm Business

Absenteeism costs American employers more than $225 billion per year, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Absenteeism refers to time away from work that isn't legitimately scheduled (like vacation days). Of course, employees can be away from the office for legitimate unplanned reasons, such as illness.

Some absences from work are perfectly natural and should perhaps even be encouraged. For example, if someone comes down with a severe head cold, it may be best for them to rest up so they can recover more quickly. Further, they won't spread the bug to the rest of the staff. Sick employees may lose more than a quarter of their productivity.

But if a company's absentee rate exceeds industry norms, it is a bad sign.

Encouraging hand washing, regular exercise, and other basic health measures could help. Creating a company culture that promotes hard work could cut down on the number of healthy people skipping work.

It's also a good idea in many cases to reschedule responsibilities. If someone calls in to work for the day, instead of shifting their responsibilities to someone else, put the work on pause, if possible. This reduces any burden on the other employees and becomes a disincentive for skipping work to avoid getting the job done.

Why did the invisible man turn down a job offer? He just couldn't see himself doing it!

Basic Tax Changes for the 2024 Filing Year

The standard tax deduction and tax brackets have changed for the 2024 filing year.

The standard deduction rose to $29,200 for married couples filing jointly, which is an increase of $1,500. Single taxpayers and married people filing separately take a standard deduction of $14,600, an increase of $750. For a head of household, the standard deduction rose to $21,900, which is an increase of $1,100.

Income tax brackets have that been adjusted:

  • 37% for individual taxpayers with incomes over $609,350, and $731,200 for married couples filing jointly.
  • 35% for individual taxpayer incomes over $243,725, and $487,450 for married couples filing jointly.
  • 32% for individual taxpayer incomes over $191,950, and $383,900 for married couples filing jointly.
  • 24% for individual taxpayer incomes over $100,525, and $201,050 for married couples filing jointly.
  • 22% for individual taxpayer incomes over $47,150, and $94,300 for married couples filing jointly.
  • 12% for individual taxpayer incomes over $11,600, and $23,200 for married couples filing jointly.
  • 10% for individual taxpayer incomes of $11,600 or less, and $23,200 or less for married couples filing jointly.

  • Quick Tip:

    Whether you’ve already filed your taxes, or are in the process of filing, you’re probably thinking about that refund. If you are one of the lucky ones that has a big return, you should be mindful of how you spend it and consider investing a portion!

    Find more helpful tips and articles at

    The Era of Free Returns Could End Soon

    In the retail industry, the beginning of the year is sometimes referred to as “return season,” owing to the flood of post-holiday returns.

    Looking to cut costs and waste and improve the bottom line, some merchants, including Amazon, are rolling out return charges and other measures.

    Free mail-in returns were a key strategy that Amazon had leveraged to get customers accustomed to brick-and-mortar shopping to buy into online shopping. But now, the e-commerce giant is charging customers $1 to make returns at UPS stores if there is a Whole Foods, Amazon Fresh grocery store, or Kohl’s nearby. In a further effort to cut down on returns, "frequently returned" items are being identified on Amazon sales pages, which may discourage some customers from making a certain purchase. This could pressure sellers into upping the quality of their goods or the accuracy of their sales pages.

    Clothing retailers, in particular, have been hit hard by excessive returns. Coresight Research has found that the return rate for clothing bought online weighs in at over 24 percent, about 8 percent higher than the overall online return rate. Since people make purchases online without trying the clothing on, poor fit is the biggest driver. Easy and free return policies have encouraged shoppers to risk buying clothing without trying out its fit, knowing that they could return it for free later. Gap and Banana Republic recently shortened their return windows, while Abercrombie and H&M now charge fees for mail-in returns.

    The National Retail Federation reports that roughly 17 percent of purchases were returned in 2022, which amounted to over $800 billion in merchandise value. Returned merchandise often goes to landfills or liquidation warehouses, creating a lot of waste and pressure on the bottom line. While the current return restrictions are limited, they might be a sign of more dramatic changes in the future.

    Jerry Manor

    Business Development Manager
    800-764-0566 ext. 546

    Christina Smutz

    Member Business Loan Officer 800-764-0566 ext. 510


    Main Office

    30 Stearns Street
    Massena, NY 13662

    Malone Branch

    3349 Route 11
    Malone, NY 12953

    Potsdam Branch

    6 Sisson Street
    Potsdam, NY 13676

    Canton Branch

    101 East Main Street
    Canton, NY 13617

    Ogdensburg Branch

    3001 Ford Street Extension
    Ogdensburg, NY 13669

    Plattsburgh Branch

    139 Smithfield Blvd
    Plattsburgh, NY 12901

    South Burlington Branch

    1680 Shelburne Rd
    So. Burlington, VT 05401

    Essex Branch

    125 Carmichael Street
    Essex, VT 05452

    Watertown Branch

    20565 State Route 3
    Watertown, NY 13601

    Branch Managers

    Joanne Langdon

    30 Stearns St. Branch Manager

    Christine Marshall

    Malone Branch Manager

    Barbara Bessette

    Canton Branch Manager

    Elizabeth Holliday

    Ogdensburg Branch Manager

    Ashley Allen

    Potsdam Branch Manager

    Melissa Comer

    Plattsburgh Branch Manager

    Jess Roach

    Watertown Branch Manager

    Joseph Feltz

    Essex Branch Manager

    Yvonne Alterie

    South Burlington Branch Manager

    Business Development

    Jerry Manor

    Business Development Manager

    Christina Smutz

    Member Business Loan Officer

    315-764-0566 / 800-764-0566

    Let us Spotlight your business!

    We are proud of our business members and want to share your story! Contact Jerry Manor for more information. Call (315) 764-0566 or toll-free (800) 764-0566 or email


    30 Stearns St
    Massena, NY 13662

    *This publication does not constitute legal, accounting or other profesional advice. Although it is intended to be accurate, neither the publisher nor any other party assumes liability for loss or damage due to reliance on this material.