Small Business Saturday
Photo: Booklover’s Gourmet saw a striking increase in sales over last year’s Small Business Saturday.
By Charles Kelleher Harris
Across the nation millions of shoppers patronized local and small businesses during one of the busiest weekends in retail history. Falling between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday was designed to help promote support for small and locally owned business in towns and cities nationwide.
“We had a very busy morning,” reported Carla Manzi owner of Webster Lake Gifts.
Manzi said that Webster Lake Gifts, which has been open for eight years owed much of its successful Small Business Saturday to area residents who look to boost town revenue.
“People recognize the need to support local businesses,” Manzi said.
At Oxford’s The Purple Lady, owned by Bettie Carlson, shoppers were “sporadic” according to Carlson.
Carlson, who opened The Purple Lady about 18 months ago, said that garnering patronage was difficult for most small business owners.
“The challenge is trying to bring people in without spending [too much] on advertising,” she stated.
Still, Carlson reported steady sales thanks largely to word of mouth and social media websites.
Carlson also said she had shoppers from, not only Oxford, but Sturbridge, Spencer and Auburn.
Booklover’s Gourmet saw a striking increase in sales over last year’s Small Business Saturday.
“I did more than double than last year on this day,” said owner Debra Horan, “It was busy non-stop until closing time.”
Horan said her store was visited by regulars, out of towners and brand new faces.
After 18 years of operation, Horan feels that she has a unique offering to the community.
“I enjoy…offering a cultural gathering place by displaying local artists’ work and featuring local authors.”
DJ’s Sportcards in Oxford saw less of an influx on Saturday.
Owner for 21 years, Richard Polletta, said that sales were “good” but added that the recession had affected his business.
Polletta observed that while people struggle to pay their bills, hobbies such as card collecting and sports memorabilia were less of a priority.
“[But] business has picked up in the last two months,” said Polletta, who went on to comment that this Saturday he saw an increase of about 30 percent over last year’s sales.
Polletta also credited social media and online sales with helping to keep his business afloat.
Mike Richford and Jeff Chamberland, owners of Mike and Jeff’s House of Bargains, also reported an increase in traffic over the weekend.
“We have seen a lot of people we haven’t seen before,” Richford said.
Chamberland said that in the two years since the House of Bargains opened the difficulty had been in snagging local spenders.
“There is a challenge in maintaining a customer base,” Chamberland observed.
Both owners said that increased advertizing both in print and online had aided in helping them achieve a “pretty decent day compared to last year.”
All of the local business owners interviewed said that there were challenges to running a small business, especially in the recent economic crisis. But they maintain a positive outlook.
“I do feel optimistic that the tide is turning back towards shopping locally as people realize how independent businesses contribute to the health and diversity of their community,” said Horan.
Manzi concurred saying, “People are spending money and that is encouraging.”