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Long Island retailers open doors to Small Business Saturday

Susanne Morahan resisted the siren call of Black Friday, choosing instead to start her holiday shopping closer to home on Small Business Saturday.

“I don’t want to be in the malls,” Morahan, of Rockville Centre, said after perusing the merchandise at Turn of the Corkscrew, a local bookstore that also serves coffee and wine. “I deal with crowds all the time.”

This is the sixth year of Small Business Saturday, a marketing effort American Express launched to help locally owned retail businesses compete with the big chains that benefit most from Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions.

In 2015, 95 million Americans reported shopping at a small business on Small Business Saturday, spending more than $16 billion — a 14 percent increase compared with 2014, according to a survey released by American Express and the National Federation of Independent Businesses.

Local business owners across Long Island are hoping for an even better 2016.

“One woman was at the register and she said, ‘Well, I need to support my local businesses, it’s Small Business Saturday,’ ” said Carol Hoenig, co-owner of Turn of the Screw. “It makes me feel great . . . A lot of people say that they’re grateful they don’t have to deal with the mall today.”

At Matty’s Toy Stop in Rockville Centre — one of five Long Island locations — shoppers mentioned Small Business Saturday an average of “at least 10 times today,” said manager Susan Phillips.

“Anything that can help us fight, or go against the big guys, the big-box stores, is always helpful for us,” Phillips said. “Because we’re definitely competitive in pricing, but we don’t have the volume that they have.”

Nadege Allison, 40, of Rockville Centre, said she liked shopping at Matty’s because it has a more friendly feel than a chain store.

“I think they’re more personal. They hire kids in the community,” Allison said.

Kathleen Quinn, owner of Irish Crossroads in Sayville, said her gift store doesn’t attract a wide variety of customers on a regular weekend.

But Small Business Saturday, combined with Sayville’s annual Miracle on Main Street event, brought hundreds of customers through downtown Sayville, with many stopping to buy ornaments, green T-shirts and plaid items from Quinn’s shop.

“No matter how much advertising you do, there are still people who don’t know you,” she said. “It helps to have people walking up and down the street.”

In Port Jefferson, which held a similar holiday event that coincided with Small Business Saturday, the nautical-themed gift shop Sea Creations was bustling with customers.

“Every year, Small Business Saturday is better for me than [Black] Friday,” owner Sue Hoeffner said. “Customers go to the big-box stores, then they come here, and they love it.”

Danielle Gambardella, 22, of St. James, stopped in after brunch with friends and browsed the store’s colorful mug selection.

“I’m definitely pro-small businesses,” Gambardella said. “I’ve worked local, and it makes a big impact on the community.”

In Babylon, Stephanie Lopes was out shopping with her friend Cathy Loewenstein. They were heading into Pandemonium, a downtown women’s clothing store that was packed Saturday afternoon.

“We both live in the village and figured we would see what the local merchants were putting out — and they’re putting out really good stuff,” Lopes said.


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