Maine businesses and communities come together on “Small Business Saturday”
Cities in Maine and cities across the state participated in “Small Business Saturday”. Local stores and stores are well prepared for this year’s holiday rush.
MAINE, United States – With the holiday season in full swing, shops and stores across Maine are set to be busy for the next few weeks. Communities have organized various small business Saturday events to encourage people to shop this year.
If you’ve been shopping in downtown Saco this time of year, you may have heard of “Saco Bucks”. Each “buck” is worth $ 5 and can be used at participating businesses. All “dollars” can be picked up at the Saco Scoop and the promotion runs until December 8th.
“What we have done is we are bringing more people downtown, we are exposing them to some of our businesses that they might not have seen before and the business is starting to happen,” said Richard Briggs, executive director of Saco Main Street.
Like all small businesses in Maine and the country, it has been a difficult year and a half as they continued to navigate their way through the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. But with community support, Briggs said the few vacant businesses have all been recently filled with new stores.
“During the pandemic, we actually opened four new businesses in our downtown area. Who would have guessed? Briggs added. “Well, again, our downtown really makes our whole city thrive. “
Cynthia Chadwick-Granger is a resident of Saco who supports her local businesses. She herself understands how difficult it has been for store owners because she owns “Vows For You By Cynthia”, a wedding ceremony business.
“It’s all about a personal visit and I’ll be like this all my life,” she said. “It’s downtown, it’s our people, you walk in, you shop, you see them.”
Businesses in other cities also saw a steady stream of customers on Saturday. Sarah Cronin owns Rustic Arrow in Freeport and she said the early stages of the holiday season have been busy.
“Consumers are more aware of where they are spending their money,” Cronin added.
According to Margaret Hoffman, Community Relations Manager at Visit Freeport, Freeport continues to develop as a space for small businesses.
“We’re probably not the first city that comes to mind when you think of small business,” Hoffman said. “But the reality is that for every national brand, we have two local businesses here in town. “
Cronin added that the mix of outlet stores and local stores attracts many tourists, which helps local businesses.
“Freeport has become a lot more user-friendly for small businesses over the past couple of years. You see small businesses popping up everywhere. It’s awesome, ”she said.
Over 30 stores and businesses in Skowhegan have great deals and offer to start small businesses on Saturdays and all week through December 4th.
The River Road Artisan Gallery is a cooperative showcasing the work of 28 local artists. This week, the gallery is raffling off works donated by some of the artists. Buyers receive free entry to the raffle with any purchase.
The artists are all located there within a 50 mile radius of the store.
Paula Phillips is one of the artists who sells her photographs and knitted items at the store. The products she knits all come from the shorn wool of her sheep.
“I spun and dye my wool, then create it in mittens and bags and slippers,” Phillips said.
Nancy Donker sells her pottery creations at the shop. She said she loved her local customers to whom she had sold her bowls and mugs for about 30 years.
“It inspires me to do more because I want to please our customers and I want people to enjoy eating from a homemade pot,” Donker said.
Another benefit of discount buying is that there are no supply chain issues affecting inventory, according to Deb Neuman, president of the Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce.
“These products are not stuck on a cargo ship. They’re right here, ”Neuman said.
For antique lovers, Hilltop Antiques is offering a 15% discount on all store items this week. Greg Salisbury, the store owner, said the store spanned 36 rooms over three floors.
“It’s good for me. It’s good for business and it’s good for the city, I mean I love to see it,” said Salisbury.
For more information on all of the deals on offer this week at Skowhegan, click here.
Many companies have also upgraded their platform, Neuman said, and now have online shopping options so people can access stores that way if they want to.
Shopping small also helps keep money in the local economy, Neuman added. Many local businesses buy and resell products from other businesses in Maine, so if you buy locally made products, you are supporting two businesses at the same time.
Gift cards are another great way to support businesses, restaurants, museums, and theaters. Neuman said it attracts new and existing customers.
“I always spend more than the value of this gift card,” she added.