Nov. 10 event offers early discounts, unique items
Left of Center by Joshua Maloni
Tis the season for sizable shopping savings.
But wait! Before you fill that online shopping cart, consider this: A large group of Lewiston retailers and restaurants are teaming up to provide a pre-Black Friday weekend experience for local residents. These merchants will provide one-of-a-kind items - and work hand-in-hand with customers to ensure each purchase is perfect.
"Holiday Kick-Off Lewiston Style" will take place Saturday, Nov. 10. Inspirations on Canvas owner Kathy Pignatora and You & Me proprietor Laura Mann Falsetti came up with the idea, hoping to spur additional foot traffic in a traditionally slow time of year.
The kick-off is not meant to compete with the Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce-led "Small Business Saturday" promotions, but rather to complement that "Shop Small" initiative.
"What we're doing is very much similar to the 'Shop Small'/Christmas Walk, where we all have treats and beverages; sales; a lot of us are doing 10 percent off. Everybody's got something different going on," Pignatora said. "Restaurants are going to be offering something, as well."
She explained, "I think that people are looking to save money and get really unique, special items for the holidays, and that's what we offer here in this town.
"I do all my Christmas shopping here, and you can really get some beautiful gifts for people; thoughtful; and yet be supporting mom and pop. It's such a great way to put money back into the community and, you know, support local business. So, it's an extension of 'Shop Small,' just kicking it off a little bit early. And just putting some good and happiness out there right now."
Falsetti said, "I just feel like, all of us as businesses together, it's better for us to work together and join forces, because, if you have an event like that, it's going to bring people out - more so than if Kathy was just to have an event, or I was just having an event on different days. And just kind of make it a thing more for locals.
"I guess we're just trying to capture the locals, to come into the businesses more. Some of the months - like (October) and, of course, January through until it gets nice outside - it's a ghost town in Lewiston. And everyone knows it, you know? It's really hard for the businesses. So, we just kind of decided that, maybe as businesses, we could get together - which we are all going to start to get together I think in the beginning of the year and try and plan some more things like this."
Pignatora noted, "We want to come up with some events above and beyond all the great stuff that the chamber and the Art Council and everybody's doing, and do our own thing, too. We shouldn't have to sit back and expect the chamber and the Art Council to come up with everything. We are trying to come up with some events on our own. And it's a pooling of resources. That's the bottom line. That's what I'm trying to do."
She recognized, "We have a lot of competition" around Thanksgiving weekend. As such, Pignatora and Falsetti saw an opportunity to kick-off the holiday shopping season a little earlier this year.
"If you look, I mean, just on Facebook pages, there's a lot of competition - Christmas bazaars, Christmas this, Christmas that," Pignatora said. "It used to just be 'Small Shopping Saturday' was us and Elmwood and maybe East Aurora. Well, there's something going on every weekend, because I don't know if it's like, you know, there's definitely some challenges in the world of the malls. They're struggling. And then you got the box stores, and then you got Amazon. But I think, because of these weird pushes and directions of where all that's been going, that there is a re-appreciation of the mom-and-pop shops. And I want to constantly remind the folks that live in the area here that we're here."
Falsetti said, "In my shop, there's things that you could find online, if you wanted to. But then I carry other smaller companies and local artists. I have a line of T-shirts and wine glasses and mugs. It's called Banky Girl Creations. Her name is Katie; she graduated from Lew-Port. She's another local artisan that I feature in the store."
You & Me also carries 3E Home candles, which are crafted by three Lewiston women.
It's "Stuff you can't find online. I mean, usually a lot of the stores that you find in Lewiston, you could find these things online, if you wanted to, but it would probably take searching and searching; where the business owners, they take their time to do their research and find companies that are good, and quality that is good," Falsetti said. "We take the time to bring you the best quality things and handmade things and local things that are even better than buying off of Amazon."
Pignatora is the artist behind the artwork at Inspirations on Canvas. She offers a wide (like, wide, wide, wide) selection of colorful pieces, covering all sorts of genres. Just 20 months after opening, she's sold almost 1,000 original creations.
While the handmade and homemade items are a draw, so, too, is the customer experience at Lewiston stores.
"People come in all the time, and it could have been they were in for Christmas last year, and they'll be trying to think, and I'll remember what they bought. And they're just, like, shocked," Falsetti said. "They're like, 'How do you remember that?'
"You know, when you get to know your customers, you remember their faces. I'm a very visual person, so they kind of think it's crazy that I remember things that they bought like a year ago. But I do, because they shop here a lot. And that's important to know your costumers and make them feel welcome, and make them want to come back. Because the locals are really what keeps the businesses alive when the holiday season isn't going anymore, when the tourist season isn't going anymore. We need them to survive."
"This town is magical; it really is," Pignatora said. "And I think sometimes people forget that. And I get to be in the position of hearing all these people just say the most marvelous things about this place. And it's really wonderful."
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