Shopping local thing to do on Small Business Saturday


PITTSFIELD -- Shoppers lined up inside the Crowne Plaza Hotel early Saturday morning, but they assembled in an orderly fashion. No one came clad in pajamas. Everyone was patient.

Quite a contrast from Black Friday, the traditional start of the holiday shopping season where chaos and cacophony are often on display.

It was Small Business Saturday, a promotion sponsored by American Express designed to encourage shoppers to support small businesses around the country. The event began in 2010. More than 100 million people participated in last year's event, according to American Express.

In the Berkshires on Saturday, decorum, not derangement, was the rule. At Deidre's Special Day in the Berkshire Common, more than 20 people gathered for the store's first "Dash for the Dress" event that began at 8 a.m.

The store's co-owner, Joe Torra, put up a paper barrier for participants to run through as they entered the room in the Crowne Plaza where the wedding dresses were on display. But instead of running, the participants just walked swiftly through it.

"We thought it would be packed and we'd be standing in line for hours," said Chelsea Julia of Lanesborough, who was second in line after arriving at Deidre's at 6 a.m. "I was pleasantly surprised."

More than 100 locally owned businesses in Pittsfield planned to participate in the actual Small Business Saturday promotion, according to a posting on Facebook.

Nationally, 67 percent of the people surveyed by the National Federation of In dependent Business and Amer ican Express, said that they planned to "shop small" on Saturday, up from the 44 percent who said they patronized small businesses at last year's event. Some stores that participated in the event offered discounts on merchandise.

Businesses that didn't officially participate, like Deidre's, believed that shoppers' awareness of the event would also help their bottom line.

"I'm hoping so," said Suzanna Van Schiack, who owns Second Home, a home furnishings store in Lenox. "People I've spoken to have been saying the energy and focus this day would be on shopping locally, which is nice."

Tony Chojnowski, who owns three small retail stores in Lenox, said Small Business Saturday could increase his profit margin for the day by 8 to 12 percent.

"It's quite possible," Choj nowski said. "I think it's a great idea."

Michael Moore, the manager of Persnickety Toys in Pitts field, said the store sold more merchandise on Saturday morning then during the entire day on Black Friday.

"It's promoted everywhere. I think this had turned the trend," towards shopping local, Moore said, the sound of toys beeping in the background. "It's just another nudge."

In Pittsfield, the Upstreet Cultural District also hosted a "Handmade for the Holidays" event.

Different Drummer on Pittsfield Road in Lenox has participated in all three Small Business Saturday events.

"I wouldn't say that we want to compete with somebody," said store manager Katy Archambault. "I think we want to put the message out there that we're still in the game."

Shoppers also enjoyed the event.

"I think it's good," said Grace Gwara of Lenox, who planned on buying fondue accessories, and a ravioli cutter at Different Drummer. "You don't find these in other stores."


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