Chamber helps with holiday shopping
SCHUYLER COUNTY—Dreamed up by American Express a few years ago, the idea has taken off like a rocket, embraced by small business owners across the country. Small Business Saturday falls this year Nov. 30. Following on the heels of Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving and the official start to the holiday shopping frenzy, Small Business Saturday offers a different take on preparing for the gift giving season.
“It’s an amazing program, all about small businesses,” says Drew Guild, Travel and Tourism Director at the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce. “Everyone’s used to going to the larger stores, but we know it’s the small businesses that make up the community. So the idea is to focus one day on the local businesses in the area.”
Three dozen area businesses signed up for the “Small Business Bingo” game sponsored by the chamber. Bingo pages are widely distributed through local media; shoppers are encouraged to visit the local businesses and accumulate stamps on their Bingo cards which make entrants eligible for some special prizes—including a big one just for kids. Many participating businesses—and also several who did not enter the program in time to be part of the Bingo game—are offering discounts and in some cases, pairing up to offer special events, like wine tastings.
Of course, the benefit goes beyond the hoopla of the day, to encourage residents to discover the bounty in their own backyards.
Helene Chaika Fausold, small business development specialist and co-facilitator for the Women’s Small Business Collaborative, says, “This increases awareness of the locally owned and managed businesses right here in Schuyler County that produce things that would make a great gifts, that people might not otherwise know about. We’ve also given people an opportunity to make a wish list. So if you go into a shop and see something you’d want as a gift for yourself, you can write next to the store name what it is you’d like from the store—and then somebody would be able to know what to get you for Christmas. This gives people a chance to stay local and try the variety of things in Schuyler County.”
Bonnie Scott, owner of Joyful Adornments Glass Studio and Gift Gallery in Odessa, is gearing up to make a big splash that day. She’s planning door prizes for the first 20 customers, flame-working demonstrations at the top of every hour, refreshments and a free holiday survival tip sheet. “I’m so excited that the community of small businesses are doing this and that the chamber is supporting us,” she says. It makes it more accessible for people to spend time with their families and support local businesses—because the small businesses are what make the community strong. It’s just an all around great thing to shop local.”
Sue Knapp, owner of O’Susannah’s Quilts and Gifts in Watkins Glen, says she’s very excited about this event. “I always encourage people to shop locally, because when we shop here, more money stays in the community, and that certainly helps everyone who lives here,” she says. She’s also looking forward to previewing a new “Downton Abbey” themed fabric collection with a free activity for Small Business Saturday shoppers. “We’re going to be making fascinators,” she says, referring to the lacy ornamented head-pieces popular in the early-20th century. “We’ll have feathers and sequins and tulle—all kinds of fun stuff,” she says.
Guild says there will also be a lot of activities at the chamber office/ Visitor’s Center on Franklin Street, including story-telling, wine tasting and massages.
“We’re looking for for awareness of small businesses that are in the community after this,” he says. “This will prime the pump, so to speak, and get people to shop small businesses.”