Businesses gear up for Small Business Saturday
PAWTUCKET – Stillwater Books Owner Steve Porter sees is every year – that is, when Small Business Saturday rolls around two days after Thanksgiving, more foot traffic into his store is imminent.
He loves it, as do other small business owners around the city.
“The past few years, excepting when COVID hit, we’ve seen about double the dollars we see on Black Friday, so Small Business Saturday is absolutely a big help, no doubt about it,” Porter said on Wednesday. “Anything that reminds the buying public that small businesses exist is a good thing.
“It’s hard to say if Small Business Saturday leads to more sales up through the Christmas holiday, but we do know that the last four or five days before Christmas remain the busiest days of the year; that’s nothing new,” he added. “What are we hoping for this Saturday? Triple the numbers? Sure! We’ll take it, but we’re realistic. We just want to see a good number of people in here buying Christmas presents, that’s all.
“The store has been restocked, we have lots of new items, lots of good books, some sidelines. We think we’ve picked some good stuff this year, but we’ll find out on Saturday and afterward.”
As for Divas Dips Co-Owner Sandra Meekins, she won’t spend the “holiday” in her store at
Hope Artiste Village, 1005 Main St. (Suite 8226), but instead plans on attending “Small Business Saturday Shop RI” at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Warwick between 9 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturday.
The event is designed to showcase the gifts and services small businesses from all over the state have available for purchase; it includes entrepreneurs, artists, Farm Fresh RI, Social Venture Enterprises, veterans and minority-owned businesses.
“Oh, we’re looking forward to it,” Meekins said Wednesday afternoon inside her business, which caters to those who adore any items involving Belgian chocolate. “We want to get our name out there and sell. We want people to know we have delicious treats for sale. This is definitely the time of year for Belgian chocolate, as the weather is brisk.
“We went to the same event last year and we did very well,” she continued.
“It was a very profitable day for us and many other vendors. We’re excited about this, and we hope to do better this year than last.”
According to Liz Catucci, the Northern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce President/CEO, this shopping “holiday” for small businesses is critical to their success, though there is also a problem with it.
“My thought process is maybe a little different, and that is it shouldn’t be just one day but a lot more where we have a focus on ‘Support Small,’” she said. “Small Business Saturday is a great thing, yes, and it’s great that we do it, but the chamber itself is going to be focused on a ‘Shop Small’ season this year.
“We’re going to commit the next few weeks and through the new year to visiting our small businesses, doing interviews with them and showcasing how wonderful they all are. You’ll see that on our social media feeds, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, wherever we can post it just to give them a little more attention.
“They deserve it; small businesses make up our community and they give back to our community. When we support local, it makes a big difference in our state because we’re keeping those dollars here. They get recycled back into the community.”
Right down the Hope Artiste Village hallway from Divas Dips works Gina Herlihy, owner and proprietor of PVD Pies, located at Suite 8208. She’s busy slicing up apples and other items to make holiday pies for her customers.
Herlihy admitted she knows little about Small Business Saturday, but says she doesn’t worry about selling her fare.
“The way I look at it, my pies are delicious and people are going to buy them, so it doesn’t matter what the day of the week or year it is,” she said. “I don’t know if that sounds too cocky; I say that humbly. I work very hard on my pies; they are my passion. People will come in and ask me, ‘Do you sell coffee?’ or ‘Do you sell tea or muffins?’ and I say, ‘No.’ Selling too many things just gets in the way of what your main focus is.
“Still, Small Business Saturday does mean something to me because I’m a small business owner, but I’m also a consumer, so I support my fellow small business owners as well. I will say I love my customers, and this time of year I’m really busy. I do a lot of sales because after people try my pies once, they come back for more.”
She said she makes not only sweet, fruity pies but also savory, which includes shepherd’s pie, chicken pot and chicken alfredo, butternut squash, etc. Among those for the sweet eaters: Kentucky Bourbon Pecan pie, Pumpkin, Sweet Potato, Sherry Chocolate Almond, Pina Colada and Chocolate Crème, to name more than a few.
“My hope is we get more people in here on Saturday,” she said. “I know I’ll be here. I’m an old-fashioned business owner; we don’t take phone calls, but people can order on-line by e-mailing PVDpies.com. They also can visit www. email@example.com. Still, I like it when people come in and say what they want; if I have it, I sell it to them. If I don’t, I’ll make it.
“I make what I want during the day or night because that’s what keeps me passionate about it.”
Across the city, Still On Main Pizzeria/Sports Bar James Monteiro sits at his computer in the evening, and he says he knew of no such thing as Small Business Saturday, but when told what it is and how it could impact the businesses inside Still On Main, 250 Main St., his ears perked up.
“Based on what I’ve heard, it should make for good sales in here on Saturday; it’ll be good for those who make up this minimall,” he said. “And if the shops are doing well, that means we should do well, too. It’s a win-win, or at least I hope it is.”