Following Small Business Saturday success, merchants & chamber back at it on what would’ve been Christmas Walk weekend
By Joshua Maloni
Mindful of the challenges faced by locally owned stores in a year of the coronavirus, state and local leaders – not to mention credit card companies – strongly encouraged people to “shop small” on Small Business Saturday.
In Lewiston, both warmer weather and incentives offered by the Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce spurred patrons to walk Center Street and scout out different deals on Nov. 28.
President Jennifer Pauly said, “Small Business Saturday brought people to our region with the intent of shopping locally and supporting our member businesses. Every business made sure they had signage regarding masks, social distancing and occupancy limits, and some had extra staff on hand to help with enforcing that message. Overall, the public was very supportive, shopped and were patient and understanding regarding waiting in lines to get into the stores and dining establishments. It was a great day for our businesses despite COVID and restrictions.
“The chamber gave out over $1,200 in River Region gift certificates to be used specifically on Small Business Saturday at our member businesses to give an added boost to the spend for the day.”
Chéri Amour owner Cheri Clark said, “It was very nice; it was very good.”
“We had a strong presence, definitely. People came out for us. That was great,” she added. “A little different, because I can only let three people into the shop, but people were patient and it was a beautiful day; so it worked out well – thank God. I think all the stores did really well for Small Business Day.”
Sue’s Frame of Mind owner Susan Sullivan said, “I’m a different entity from the others in that (people) just don’t come here shopping. They have to come in with a creative something that they’ve done, that they need it to be framed. But it did strive to bring people in with those creative projects, because they were thinking, ‘Christmas is coming and what unique thing can I give this year?’ I would say Shop Small Saturday was nice.”
The Village of Lewiston's Christmas tree is already up at the Hennepin Park Gazebo.
Merchants and restaurant owners annually see that “shop small” support continue into the following weekend, when the Lewiston Christmas Walk and Tour of Homes traditionally bring families and history buffs to the village streets.
Though those events are canceled this year due to a second wave of COVID-19, storeowners are still hopeful patrons will be out and about this Saturday and Sunday – or shopping online if that’s more comfortable.
Clark said, “I am continuing with my sale with Kendra Scott, and with Vidda from Spain. Both are going to be 15% off through the weekend. And I’m going to be open on Sunday – I’m going to be open every day till Christmas.”
Alternatively, “You can place orders on the phone; we do curbside pickup; we can ship,” she added. “Basically, we’ve done everything from FaceTiming in the store, so that they don’t have to leave their house. Hopefully, we don’t have to go back to that. (Laughs). …
“I actually FaceTime shop, and so they get to see what I’m showing them. We’ve done that a lot.”
Sullivan said, “I’m thrilled that they’re patronizing me – that they’re thinking about small businesses, whether it’s me or any of the other small businesses. It’s wonderful that they are doing that, and they are thinking of us. But they’re even doing it in a more … personal way for the gift-giving, as well. Not only trying to support us little people, but they’re thinking about their gift-giving.
“In the past, it’s always been, ‘Oh, just give a gift certificate or gift card or cash.’ But now I think people are thinking more about the individual that they’re buying for. It has made people think a little bit more.”
She explained, “This year is totally different. And I think people are now more focused than in the past on family, home and hearth, if you will. They want to enrich that family life, and they’re thinking about more personal gifts from the heart. So, I’ve seen a lot more of that kind of thought going into gift-giving, and some of it comes in here where I’m framing gifts – whether it be diplomas or pictures or drawings or something very personal to give the other person.”
This weekend and throughout December, “Original paintings by local artists are here, are available for sale,” Sullivan said. “So, they can look at buying art, whether it be framed or some of them are unframed, and they can have them framed or give it as it is.”
She added, “As far as specials go, I do have a selection of frames that are this month’s specials, if you will, that have 20% off a selection of frames for this month.”
“I’m just helping whoever walks in to find the perfect exclamation point on their gift, whatever that gift may be,” Sullivan said.
Children can submit a letter to Santa via the mailbox located between You & Me and The Spicey Pickle on Center Street.
Though the Chamber of Commerce won’t have its usual Santa-copter, parade or one-on-one photo opportunities, it is planning to livestream St. Nick.
A Facebook post also shared by the Lewiston Business Group reads, “Join Santa here Saturday & Sunday at 2pm! He will check the North Pole Mailbox in Lewiston, NY and read some of the letters he has received! Tune in to see if he chooses yours!
“Thank you Deal Realty, Inc. and Lewiston Digital, LLC for helping us stream Santa!”
Additionally, the chamber is encouraging people to “jingle without the mingle” and “admire the beautiful storefronts and window displays … take a photo at the Lewiston wreath or pile onto the family holiday chair and see the giant characters at Hennepin Park.”
In lieu of the Tour of Homes, the Historical Association of Lewiston staged a multiweek cash raffle.