Nothing small about it
Santa welcomes shoppers to Willy Nilly Trading Company in Bay Shore.

IB/Finnegan

Nothing small about it

Story By: LIZ FINNEGAN
11/29/2018


ISLIP TOWN—Though the weather threatened, it didn’t prevent the anticipated and hoped for activity downtown in the hamlets of Islip and Bay Shore last Saturday. In Bay Shore, just before the annual Winter Festival got underway with a holiday tree and menorah lighting as well as visits from Frosty and Santa, the day was a perfect seasonal backdrop for what local merchants are referring to as the busiest shopping day of the year: Small Business Saturday. 

The American Express credit card company, as a way to support small-business owners, introduced SBS in 2010. It was an idea that caught on quickly, so much so that legislation in all 50 states have pretty much designated the first Saturday after Thanksgiving as SBS.

Nicole Leinback Reyhle, a spokesperson for American Express SBS, said that all indications are that this year — the ninth SBS year - had been better than all of the others.

“The shoppers’ support that took place on Saturday was a record high,” she noted. “That’s so exciting.”

According to the 2018 Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey, which was just released, the total spending among U.S. consumers shopping small businesses was a whopping $17.8 billion. Based on the annual surveys over the years, spending has been around $103 billion since the start of SBS. Leinback Reyhle said those numbers are nationwide, but there are still no surveys garnering information on how different regions in the country made out on that day.

However, local shop owners said they fit well into those stats.

There was a steady stream of customers making their way through Willy Nilly Trading Company, located at 153 W. Main Street in Bay Shore. Among them were Carol Ann and Sal Costa, who reside in the hamlet. Sal said he regularly shops on Small Business Saturday. “We want to support our small businesses. And we like the uniqueness they provide,” he added. “[Main Street] is the first place for us to go to find things.”

Outside the store, Santa (a.k.a. Lee) rang his bell and welcomed in all shoppers, which added to the seasonal ambiance. “I’ve been doing this for years,” he said. “I like bringing a little joy to Bay Shore.” 

New Islip homeowners Elvis Morales and Jenn Crossley emerged from Nook & Cranny Gift Boutique at 469 Main Street in Islip, with several packages in hand. “We want to support Main Street businesses and that’s why we’re out here,” noted Crossley. Morales said having a viable downtown is one of the reasons they chose to move to the neighborhood. “It has a small-town feel,” he added.

Lori Zegal, the proprietor of Nook & Cranny, said the day was “very busy. We had customers all day long. It’s a good start to the holiday season,” she added.

“[Small Business Saturday] always goes great,” said Marilyn Schulman, the owner of Willy Nilly. “People really relate to it.”

Schulman said that overall sales were up from last year, and she expects people to continue to shop small and local. “It’s an experience,” she remarked. “We’re very pleased so far and we think it’s going to be a great holiday season.”

And so does Donna Periconi, president of the Chamber of Commerce of Greater Bay Shore, who noted that there was indeed an uptick in the amount of foot traffic on Main Street. That was something the local merchants and restaurateurs were all very pleased to see. “It was a very good day,” Periconi said.