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The Bear Paw Shoppe

Allegany State Park makes its mark in downtown Ellicottville

With its numerous camping sites, two lakes, delicious restaurant and unique shops, Allegany State Park is a hotspot for visitors and Cattaraugus County residents alike. And now Ellicottville resident, John Marino, has brought the park to downtown Ellicottville! Just a few weeks ago, Marino, who owns and operates Allegany State Park’s gift shops and general stores, opened The Bear Paw Shoppe at 38 Washington Street just in time for ski season. “Our shops in the park have grown so much over the past six years, and I’m happy to bring some of this merchandise, plus lots of new items, to Ellicottville,” said Marino, who was very pleased with the store’s opening weekend December 15-16.

If it seems as though Marino’s store opened practically overnight, that’s because it did! “Honestly, it was a very fast turn-around between acquiring the location and opening,” explained Marino. “It really took place in about three weeks’ time.” Indeed, Marino signed the lease for the 600-square foot space during the third week of November; fortunately, the space did not need much work - just a fresh coat of paint on the exterior. Along with his hardworking staff from the park’s retail stores, Marino set up the store and opened just a few weeks later! “We’re happy with the place, and it’s the perfect location. I’m really glad to have a place for my employees during the winter season - they’re a wonderful staff.”

The store, which sits between Subway and Dom’s Butcher Block, is conveniently located downtown in the Washington Square Plaza to offer shoppers a variety of merchandise that can’t be found in other stores.  “We carry some of our park visitors’ favorite items including the Bear Paw Fudge, candles and décor items, but we have new items too, such as Ellicottville clothing and souvenirs, cards and educational toys,” explained Marino. Marino and his staff have taken advantage of the store’s wall space to display a great variety of decorative signs, which are popular gift items.

Marino’s passion for the outdoors has been a life-long pursuit. While Marino has called Ellicottville home in recent years, he has also lived in the Catskills, where he and his sister own ski shops, and at Allegany State Park, where he has been involved since 1994. “Our shops in the park have grown tremendously over the past few years, with the biggest jump in gift item sales, such as candles and décor,” said Marino. Visitors to the new Bear Paw Shoppe can look forward to a fresh array of merchandise, as items from the park’s stores and the Ellicottville store will move back and forth. Marino is also looking forward to adding new merchandise to the Bear Paw Shoppe throughout the winter months.

Although activity in Ellicottville changes at the end of ski season, Marino is quick to add that the Bear Paw Shoppe will be open year ‘round, especially since spring and summer are the busiest seasons at Allegany State Park. “There has always been a lot of back-and-forth traffic between the park and Ellicottville during the summer, as campers like to explore the area and many locals come to the park for the day,” Marino explained.

In fact, the growth of Allegany State Park will likely impact Ellicottville and increase traffic to Marino’s new store. “The park has about 800 properties, including campsites and cabins, that visitors can rent, which means we average anywhere from 2,500 to 3,500 visitors per night in the summer. There will be fifteen more cottages added to the Quaker side of the park that will be ready in May, which means even more visitors!”

For the winter season, the Bear Paw Shoppe will be open from 10am-5pm Sunday through Thursday, and 10am-7pm Friday and Saturday. Hours will be modified for the summer months, but Marino encourages readers to follow the Bear Paw Shoppe on Facebook for news and updates. “I love the snow, I love to ski, and I love Ellicottville,” said Marino, “and I’m happy to now be in business here.”

Check out Ellicottville’s newest store and enjoy a taste of the park without having to leave town!