GLOVERSVILLE — When Tammy Tesiero returned to the area in late 2020, after more than four years away, she brought from South Carolina a business and a new appreciation for life.
Tesiero owns TamFam Glam & Goodies, which sells $5 jewelry and assorted candy from a storefront at 30 S. Main St. She started it as an online business in late 2018, and later added a physical location in Myrtle Beach. The store was closed prior to Tesiero’s relocation to Gloversville, with her husband, Jay, and daughter, Mya.
“It’s great to be back,” Tammy Tesiero said last Saturday, when she was wearing a dress featuring tiger stripes and makeup that added the big cat’s nose and whiskers to her face. It was a few days before Halloween, and she and some other downtown merchants were handing out candy to costumed children. “Everybody wants to move away, but once you’re away, I guess you realize how important family and those lifelong friends are.”
In September 2017, about 18 months after the family had relocated from Fulton County to South Carolina, Tesiero was being airlifted to a hospital in Charleston.
“They found that I had metastatic colon cancer in my brain and lungs,” Tesiero said. “They didn’t expect me to make the flight, let alone still be here now.”
Her doctors, she said, told her she had three to eight months to live. And for the next year, she mostly just sat around — thinking about the indignities and unfairness of life. And waiting.
Tesiero reconnected online with some old friends, and saw how some were using Facebook Live to sell jewelry. It seemed like a fun activity.
“I’ve worked my entire life,” Tesiero, 52, recalled. In New York, she had been a physical therapy assistant at Visiting Nurses Home Care. “I was still alive, so I thought, well, maybe that’s something I could do to help out with the family and be a positive role model for my daughter.”
Tesiero found a company, Paparazzi, that supplied a range of jewelry for men and women – all of it priced to retail for $5. She began pitching the jewelry during online broadcasts, frequently assisted by her daughter, Mya. They were close, even before the cancer, and the business venture brought the two women closer.
“I’ve homeschooled her since the third grade,” Tammy Tesiero said.
“Even when I was little,” said Mya Tesiero, 16, “I never really wanted to be away from my parents. When she first started getting sick, I was probably one of her biggest helpers.”
Hearing this, after another trick-or-treater had left the store, Tammy Tesiero walked over to where her daughter was speaking with a visitor, and she smiled and slowly nodded. TamFam Glam & Goodies was closed for a few months over the summer so Tesiero could take what she called a chemotherapy break.
The family patriarch, Jay, was a long-haul truck driver when the family was in South Carolina.
“When we came back here, he decided to go into contracting so that he would be closer to home and available more often,” Tammy Tesiero said.
TamFam Glam started as an online business in South Carolina, added a physical location, and then reverted to online-only after the Tesieros returned to the area. Late last year, as she was driving through Gloversville’s commercial district, Tammy Tesiero saw a bookseller clearing out of his leased space at 30 S. Main St. She went in and spoke to the man, whose business was being reimagined as an online, home-based enterprise.
“I had had in my mind to open another store here and I wanted it on Main Street,” Tesiero said. She liked the look of the space, and how it would lend itself to the display of jewelry. Renovations began in November.
Jay Tesiero was the contractor responsible for the store’s transformation from a bookstore to a jewelry and candy mart.
TamFam Goodies, which sells the candy, is the newest part of the enterprise. It operates from the mezzanine level, up a few steps from the main sales floor. Mya Tesiero is responsible for the candy department.
“It’s like a business class for her,” Tammy Tesiero said.
Mya Tesiero said her father inspired her to give the candy section a retro feel, with some items displayed for sale in transparent canisters.
“They don’t have any more candy stores like that in Gloversville,” she said. “We’ve got nickel candy, because you can’t really price anything for a penny anymore.”
Tammy Tesiero was familiar with this part of Gloversville long before she opened the store. She said one of her grandmothers lived in an upstairs apartment in a building on the other side of South Main St. from where she now engages in commerce.
Business, she added, has been good since the opening, with the Gloversville location now outselling the Myrtle Beach store. However, online sales still account for more than half of revenues, according to the owner.
Still, Tammy Tesiero believes the brick-and-mortar store has brought some positive vibes to the downtown area. She hopes her shop’s presence will convince other entrepreneurs to open in some of the vacant storefronts on her block.
And she is certain that her store has added positive vibes to her outlook on the future. E-commerce is important to the business, but the physical location allows Tammy Tesiero to see old friends and work alongside her daughter.
“I feel good, actually. I don’t feel terminal,” she said. “I do chemo treatments every two weeks for the rest of my life, but I guess it’s just part of my routine now, and then we go on with everything else.”