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For LI store owners, Small Business Saturday is welcome relief

Sue and Bob Chester of Sayville shop at

Sue and Bob Chester of Sayville shop at Sayville General Store on Small Business Saturday, Nov. 25, 2017. Credit: Barry Sloan

For Kerry Punzi, the best day of the year is the Saturday after Thanksgiving — when small businesses like hers get the attention they deserve.

“We’ve been rockin’ and rollin’,” said a delighted Punzi as customers bustled about her Rockville Centre gift shop, The Giftologist. “So far, it’s been double the business for this time of year.”

Across Long Island, small shops opened their doors to welcome customers looking for a more local shopping experience after Black Friday.

Small Business Saturday, launched nationwide seven years ago by American Express, aims to highlight mom-and-pop businesses that typically get left out of the holiday retail rush dominated by chains and big-box stores.

Punzi said her sales had been sagging due to a surge in chain-store internet deals. But this Saturday was a chance to fight back and reclaim and retain customers.

“Small Business Saturday gets to be our day,” she said, as customers purchased soaps, dish towels and decorative pillows at a 20 percent discount.

Down the street, Shannon McComb, owner of Lucky Finds Boutique, a consignment store, said she planned well ahead. She collected more clothes and accessories to put out, just for the holiday rush.

“We’re doing about the same as last year,” she said around noon. “It’s a much busier Saturday than normal.”

At Cow Over The Moon toys and sports collectibles in Huntington, Suz Mercer, 39, was looking for Christmas presents. She said she likes to shop at the toy store because of its unique offerings.

“I can find things here I can’t anywhere else, and I like to touch and feel,” Mercer said. “We come here and make it a whole event.”

Across the street at Little Switzerland Dolls, Ashley Santucci, 27, was picking up gifts for her flower girl ahead of her wedding in August.

“Living in Huntington, I would always prefer to support local businesses,” Santucci said.

Lily Berg has owned Little Switzerland Dolls for 35 years and said her shop was busy Saturday with parents looking for toys and in-store gift wrapping.

“We know exactly what to give families once they tell us the ages of their children,” Berg said. “Customers say it’s so much easier. It really makes you feel good to help kids on Christmas morning and Hanukkah.”

Jacquee Gustafson, 53, who has co-owned the Sayville General Store on Main Street for 21 years, expected to ring up more than 1,000 customers Saturday. The shop was stocked to the ceiling with ornaments, greeting cards, candles and potential holiday gifts.

“It’s terrific,” Gustafson said of the special shopping day. “Especially in the world that we’re living in, where it’s going to be one big Amazon.”

With Jesse Coburn

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