A day in the black
ISLIP TOWN—It was a great promotional idea founded by a clever ad man at American Express several years back: shop small businesses on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. And since that concept was first introduced in 2010, local businesses have seen a marked increase in shopping on that day. Last Saturday, though hindered slightly by rainy weather, was very successful for local merchants.
Donna Periconi, president of the Chamber of Commerce of Greater Bay Shore, said she has been promoting the day for weeks ahead of time. In fact, the hamlet’s holiday event, “Winter Festival,” was rescheduled to coincide with the day to help draw more shoppers to the downtown district.
The Islip hamlet holiday event, however, is scheduled to take place this weekend. So, the Islip Chamber of Commerce created their very own Shop Islip initiative to coincide with Small Business Saturday. An informational booth that was set up on Main Street offered shoppers hot cocoa, hot chestnuts and cookies.
Anthony Mastrantonio, vice president of the chamber, said despite the rain, he was hopeful for a good day.
“We are trying to make this day more community-oriented,” he said. “And we’re hoping to see a few more people out shopping. We have such great businesses and restaurants here in town,” he added.
Many of the participating stores and restaurants provided incentives that included discounts. The Islip Cinemas offered discounted movie tickets as well.
Little Shop of Shamrocks, located at 173 Islip Ave., had a good day. Actually, it was even better than that.
“It was a phenomenal day,” said proprietor Linda Lowe. “People were out in droves and most said it was because of Small Business Saturday. It was wonderful.”
Lowe said the promotions offered all over the hamlet helped. She said before the American Express concept was put into action four years ago, the weekend after Thanksgiving had been slow.
“I definitely see a difference,” she added.
Marilyn Schulman, the owner of Willy Nilly Trading Company at 153 West Main St. and Willy Nilly at Home, 143 West Main St., said Black Friday was actually a little better than Small Business Saturday. However, she added, “The whole weekend was good overall. People seem to be more aware of Small Business Saturday. Small stores do deserve to get [attention].”
Schulman said that although online buying is becoming more popular, in-store shopping is still beating out the web as the choice for shoppers for their entire holiday gift buying needs. “That’s exhilarating for a local merchant,” she said.
As busy as the last weekend was for many businesses, Schulman said she still doesn’t expect her busiest day of the season to be until a few days before Christmas. “That’s when all of the panic shoppers come out,” she remarked. And so who are the people that tend to leave the shopping to the last minute? “The men,” she added with a laugh.
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