Jack Dunnigan knows the calendar is itching closer to the time of the year “mall mentality,” as he calls it, will take over.
With Black Friday this week and weeks of holiday shopping to follow for many, malls will be packed until that 2013 calendar stocking stuffer is actually in use. But Dunnigan, and many other local business owners, are hoping this Saturday will help remind shoppers about all that local businesses have to offer.
Dunnigan owns Pickwick Book Shop in Nyack and is one of many Rockland business owners participating in American Express’ Small Business Saturday. American Express started Small Business Saturday in 2010 as a way to promote locally owned businesses, offering a $25 gift card to those who enroll their eligible American Express card and then use it to make a purchase of $25 or more at a participating store. Last year, more than 100 million people shopped at local businesses on Small Business Saturday.
“Small businesses have to group together for people to pay attention to them,” Dunnigan said. “Hopefully this well help more people know what Nyack has to offer and know that Nyack is open for business.”
Dunnigan didn’t participate in the event last year, but learned about it a bit more this year from the American Booksellers Association and decided to give it a go. He added that with the dwindling number of book stores around the country, he’s always looking for ways to help his store.
“You have to team up with other small stores, and if this is another way of doing it, all the better,” he said. “That’s all we have. All small stores have no one to fall back on but ourselves.”
Cindy and Steve Weisblatt, who own New City’s Original Designs, are participating in the event for the second straight year.
“It’s a really wonderful thing to give you a little edge during Black Friday weekend,” Cindy Weisblatt said. “It’s of no cost to the merchant and the $25 credit is a nice thing to give out. It’s a really great thing American Express provides to help compete with big business.”
She added that American Express provided signage and did a good job getting the word out, which is partly why they opted to participate again.
“They practically made the sales for us,” Cindy Weisblatt said.
Normally during this weekend, the store will hold a friends and family sale, which they will do this weekend as well. But Weisblatt said last year the Small Business Saturday event brought in a lot of shoppers.
Marianne Olbermann, manager of Beads Mosaic in Nanuet, said last year her store saw an increased crowd because of Small Business Saturday as well. This year, the store won’t hold any classes because of how busy it was last year. Normally, Beads Mosaic holds classes every day.
“Even with crowds, we like to think we provide a relaxing shopping experience, especially given how crazy Black Friday and holiday shopping can be,” she said. “Plus, you can’t really go to Black Friday to get what we offer.”
Olbermann addd they don’t have any additional deals going on and the store will save its big holiday sales for closer to the actual holidays.
She added they are participating in support of the 3/50 project, which aims to promote stronger local economies through support of independent retailers. They will hand out literature about the organization on Saturday.
Small Business Saturday isn’t just open to retailers, however. Plenty of restaurants are participating in the event, such as Raffaele's Pizzeria in Pearl River. Ron Fatigate, owner of the pizzeria, said they participated last year and while he wasn’t necessarily sure if it brought in more people than a typical Saturday, he was happy to sign up again.
“Pearl River is a small community,” he said. “We have to stick together.”
He added he hopes the day brings a lot of shoppers into Pearl River, which would not only be good for the other business owners, but could also bring more people into the pizzeria.
“It’s a great idea,” he said. “Hopefully it can bring people together, not only for business, but as a community.”