Small Business Saturday a day of appreciation
By Joshua Maloni
It might've seemed odd when American Express unveiled "Small Business Saturday" in 2010. Why would a massive international company encourage people to forgo big box stores (you know, the kinds that love to take your plastic cards) in favor of mom and pop retailers (like the ones who prefer cash)?
While American Express may have rolled out the initiative as a marketing ploy, the idea took root in the minds of consumers across the country.
Small Business Saturday (aka "Shop Small Saturday") has grown by leaps and bounds as, each year, more and more communities participate and build advertising campaigns to encourage patronage. AMEX reported small business owners generated $15.4 billion in 2016, as 112 million people visited their local retailers.
In a press release on Business Wire, AMEX Executive Vice President of Global Advertising and Brand Management Elizabeth Rutledge said, "We are proud to see how Small Business Saturday continues to inspire communities. This year we will again celebrate the small businesses that make our neighborhoods feel like home. We've seen firsthand that, when small businesses thrive, our neighborhoods, towns and cities thrive. So this Small Business Saturday we encourage everyone to visit the diverse range of small businesses that make up the fabric of their communities."
Cheri Clark, co-owner of Cheri Amour on Center Street in Lewiston, said Small Business Saturday has been "just as busy as a Black Friday" in the River Region.
"You know what it is?" she said. "It's when your customers come out to say they appreciate you. And it's a different kind of a feel of a day. It's a happy day. Everyone's happy to say, 'I'm here!'
"It's a happy day, and it really has grown. It's a good day. People come out for it."
On Small Business Saturday, Nov. 25, Cheri Amour will offer sales on major lines, as well as gifts with purchase.
On the other side of Center and Fifth streets, Spice Harbor proprietor Kristen Brolinski will mark her first Small Business Saturday in Lewiston by utilizing a special discount system.
"We're going to use a deck of cards, and each customer will draw the card at the register. And they get a discount viable to the card," Brolinski said. "So, if they draw a 2, they get a 2 percent discount (on the total order). If you draw a 10 or higher, you get 10 percent. If you draw an ace, you get 15. If you draw the joker, you get 20.
"And, yes, they go back in. The joker will go back in. So, it could end up being many times."
She said she hopes this will entice new shoppers. Spice Harbor offers more than 1,800 products, including easy-to-make soups, dips and cookies, as well as nautical gifts.
"I'm honestly hoping that we're going to get more and more new people in, that we haven't been getting in since we opened in January," Brolinski said. "We've had people that are very regulars, and people that are just finding us. I'm hoping more and more find us."
In Youngstown, Cheryl and Mark Butera of Anchor Spirits & Wines "have always believed in keeping it local," she said. "Even before we opened our store in 2007, we connected to the Niagara Wine Trail. We have always featured our local wineries so that our customers could buy local wines at winery prices. We also give a 10 percent discount on all Niagara Wine Trail wines all day long on Shop Small Saturday."
She added, "As business owners and officers of the Youngstown Business and Professional Association, we strongly live by this guiding principle: Eat local, drink local and shop local, because what is good for one of us is good for all of us."
Small Business Saturday is designed to be a day when people give back to local merchants - to provide them with nuts, so to speak, to store up for winter. But this year one Lewiston eatery, The Spicey Pickle, will take the day's sales and donate to a local charity.
Owner Aaron Rotella said, "I just enjoy helping other people. So I give away a little bit.
"Last year we had a snowstorm; I lost a lot. I may lose a little bit (this year), but at least it's going somewhere good this time."
Money, he said, will go toward "whoever needs it, and I feel it's just."
In addition, inspired by a recent trip to see "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," Rotella said, "I'm going to be doing another promotion. I'm going to do '12 Days of Giveaway' - like Ellen does."
Leading up to Christmas Walk weekend (Dec. 2-3), "I'm going to have 12 prizes that, you come in, it doesn't cost anything, you'll get a raffle ticket just for filling out (one). But if you donate - I'm going to do it like a food drive - you come in and bring any canned goods, then you'll get 'X' amount of more raffle tickets," Rotella said.
The 12 prizes will likely range from T-shirts to gift certificates.
"But you won't know what it is," he said. "I'm going to have it all wrapped up."
In addition, "I'm going to have one big grand prize - Buffalo Bills tickets or a TV or something like that. And people can donate cash to that. I'm going to donate that to Heart, Love & Soul."
"People, they need it," he added.
The Spicey Pickle also is offering a 50 percent discount to active military members, police officers and firefighters each Monday until Jan. 29, 2018.
The Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce has been an active Small Business Saturday "Neighborhood Champion" for the past six years. Promotional items are distributed to a select number of businesses to promote the day in the community.
"The day has become a popular event and is considered the start of the holiday shopping season for the region. There is a fun and festive feel throughout the shops as loyal and new customers enjoy coming out specifically on Small Business Saturday to show their support," Chamber of Commerce President Jennifer Pauly said. "Small Business Saturday has given customers an extra reason to support their favorite small businesses. The day has grown into a wonderful opportunity for communities to rally around the establishments that are the backbones of the economy in our villages and towns.
"Our businesses are encouraged to offer something special on Nov. 25 to show appreciation to their customers, as well. It's a great day to celebrate businesses and the customers who support them."
Below is a listing of businesses offering special promotions on Small Business Saturday.
•700 Bistro & Café (700 Center St., Lewiston): Free coffee at 700 Bistro & Cafe with any purchase. Vendors will feature products for sale in the Tuscany Room. DoTerra Essential Oils, Saladmaster, jewelry, organic soaps and lotions, Thirty One Bags, NorWex Cleaning Products, Vantel Pearls.
•Anchor Spirits (113 Lockport St., Youngstown): 2017 will be the seventh "Shop Small Saturday" at Anchor Spirits & Wines. The store will feature Niagara Craft Spirits, the only distillery on the Niagara Wine Trail. The owners of Niagara Craft Spirits will offer tastings at Anchor Spirits from 3-6 p.m. They will also give away Anchor Spirits 2018-19 wall calendars with each purchase. Plus, for any Niagara Wine Trail wine purchase, Anchor Spirits will offer a 10 percent discount on this day. Local musicians Rich & Nick will play their holiday favorites live.
•Antique to Chic (536 Center St., Lewiston): Antique to Chic will have extended hours (9 a.m. of 6 p.m.) and will hold a free drawing for a gift certificate. Refreshments will also be available.
•Black Willow Winery (5565 W. Lake Road, Burt): Purchase three bottles of wine, and receive $5 off. Purchase three of the small bottle oils and vinegars, and receive one free.
•Canterbury Place (547 Center St., Lewiston): Receive a small gift with purchase. Open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
•Chantilly Rose (480 Center St., Lewiston): Receive 50 percent off lamps and select clothing throughout November and on Small Business Saturday.
•Cheri Amour (522 Center St., Lewiston): In-store discounts on top brands. Customers will receive a free gift with purchase, plus the store will offer giveaways.
•The Country Doctor (549 Center St., Lewiston): Stop in for giveaways throughout the day. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
•Hilltop Country Antiques Co-Op & Gift Emporium (5154 Townline Road, Sanborn): Customers can take advantage of 20 percent off storewide, and enjoy hot beverages while shopping. There also will be 10 percent off the card room at Niagara Sports Cards, located on premise. Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
•Inspirations on Canvas (449 Center St., Lewiston): Customers receive 10 percent off their entire purchase (merchandise only - excludes gift certificates). Free gift to the first 50 people who spend more than $75 (one gift per person). Surprise specials and treats, including cookies and hot chocolate for everyone. Hours are 8 a.m. until 6 p.m.
•The Lash & Brow Boutique (440 Ridge St., Lewiston): A package deal (facial and lash lift) originally priced at $130 will be available for $110. With every facial from Small Business Saturday to Christmas, get a free brow wax or lash lift.
•Lewiston Museum (469 Plain St., Lewiston): New artifacts will be on display in the museum, along with new items in the store - including a new wooden train whistle and marble game for children. A package special will be available on six hand-carved ornaments of historic buildings in Lewiston. All six ornaments will be available in a package deal for $100. Open noon until 5 p.m.
•Melloni's Marketplace (200 Lockport St., Youngstown): Melloni's will have a variety of food samples, 69-cent doughnuts and free coffee for customers.
•Mother's Movies (445 Center St., Lewiston): Free samples of the retro candy you grew up with! Browse the unique candy selection from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
•Orange Cat Coffee Co. (703 Center St., Lewiston): The OCCC will offer special discounts on whole bean coffees and loose leaf teas, with special surprises in store. Hours are 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
•Sanger Farms (852 Youngstown-Lockport Road, Youngstown): Purchase one large pizza at full price, and get a second pizza half off (pick-up only). Dine-in special: Half off one large pizza, including one topping, with the purchase of two or more alcoholic beverages (must be age 21 or older).
•Spice Harbor (476 Center St., Lewiston): Spice Harbor will have numerous samples all day, including soups. There will also be a surprise discount: Customers will pull a card at the register, which will reflect how much their discount will be on their complete order.
•The Spicey Pickle (463 Center St., Lewiston): The Spicey Pickle will celebrate "Shop Small Saturday" and give big with 100 percent of the day's proceeds given to a select charity.