By Benjamin Joe
Sanborn is neither a city, nor a town, but a hamlet within the Town of Lewiston. It sits surrounded by fields, silos and other hallmarks of a rural community. It is not often perceived as a major shopping experience, but for those looking for a Christmas or unique gift and décor, it may be the best place to find a good price on a nice present.
Sanborn’s Business Association is hosting its fifth annual Shop Local / Shop Sanborn event for Small Business Saturday. For the first time, it has expanded into a full weekend of deals and holiday comforts for those who are in the know.
“Shop Local is our yearly event,” said Bonnie Haskell of the Sanborn Business & Professional Association. “We have more stores and restaurants this year that are going to be in it.”
This year, restaurants such as G Macs Inn on Ward Road, and other businesses such as Wilco Auto Care, H.A. Treichlers Greenhouse and Niagara Records will be open with fine deals for its customers all weekend long. Buffalo Coffee Roastery, Tina’s Family Restaurant and Ziggy’s Barber Shop will only be open Saturday, but will have something special for customers.
“This is a good family restaurant. The food is freshly made,” said Sheryl Carr, who works at Tina’s and greets customers by name. “The owner, Sharolyn Verkest, makes all the soups and salads with fresh foods.”
“Everything is excellent,” said Sue Quarantiello, a daily customer in the diner. “Best bacon around anywhere.”
For anyone who has been to Sanborn, they know the real draw is to spend a day poking into small shops for antiques and finding special gifts, perfect tablecloths and linens, and rare finds for a good price. Sanborn Old General Store, Lewiston Antique Mall, Kuntz Sanborn Mill and the Shawnee Country Barn will all be participating from Friday till Sunday in the post-Thanksgiving gift-buying frenzy, providing special savings.
“We have three stores locally, right here, so they can go from place to place. That makes it very good for them,” Haskell said. “Then, of course, they can go down to the Shawnee Barn, the antique co-op in Wheatfield. So, we have four they can shop at.”
“They have a lot to choose from; when they come in, they’re going to see distinctive gifts,” she continued. “They’re going to see uncommon things, not the kind you buy at Walmart, because ours are vintage. They’re collectibles, old and new. We have it all. … This time of year is Christmas decorations and gifts.”
Another thing one probably won’t see at Walmart or another “big-box” store like Best Buy or Target are refreshments and raffles along with deals in an “open house” environment.
“It’s always our busiest time of the year,” Haskell said. “And this year, three of us will have an open house during this time. We’ll be serving refreshments and they’ll probably have gift baskets that you can put an entry card in to win. There’ll be gift baskets that will be given away, stuff like that. … It’s a shopping event.”
Haskell said the reason for the change from Small Business Saturdays to an expanded Shop Local weekend was the comments from the customers.
“We have had requests from our customers; they want to start coming in on Friday,” she said.
It seems the enthusiasm for shopping has been wounded by a thing called “online shopping.” Haskell said her generation likes to go out and shop, but younger people will see something online and buy it quickly, even though they might get a better deal if they shopped around. That’s tragic, she said, because they’re the ones willing to buy more and they’re needed at these small businesses.
“They (the older generation) like to make a day of it,” Haskell said. “They get together, four or five women (usually), and they go antiquing together for the day. They buy all kinds of stuff.”
“One thing that worries us, though, is shopping online,” she said. “They used to come and look at tablecloths and stuff, and now they go online and they can see 1,200 of them. Everything is done online. I think that the older people, they’re still (shopping), because that’s from our world.
“We want to see it, feel it, touch it, try it on. The younger people are so into everything electronic. That’s their lives; they know that. Those are the ones we are losing and we need them desperately.”
All the same, Haskell remains optimistic.
“We do the best we can with it,” Haskell said. “It’s always our busiest time of the year. Usually we have 300 to 400 people. We’re quite busy.
“If you’re hunting for that unique gift, these are the places you want to come to, and the pricing will be right.”