As Diane Trinkwald began shopping for her granddaughter, great nephews and others Saturday morning in Patchogue, she scooped up a free black bag with bold, colorful lettering that said "Shop Small."
“I make sure I come for my bag every holiday weekend,” said Trinkwald, 72, of Patchogue.
The Greater Patchogue Chamber of Commerce set up a table outside one of the newest village businesses, Underworld Productions, where volunteers handed out the bags filled with giveaways and coupons to promote the local small businesses. Inside the production house, Santa sat ready for photos.
From Southampton to Port Washington, towns and villages across Long Island promoted special events to draw in shoppers as part of the Small Business Saturday campaign that follows Black Friday — the unofficial start of holiday shopping.
Alison Hansson, 34, of Medford, brought her three children — 5-year-old twins, Zoey and CJ, and 7-year-old Jackson — for photos with Santa as part of Patchogue’s holiday promotion.
“My family, every year we get together and we usually do a lunch or breakfast and then we do a little shopping in town and see Santa and do the whole small business thing,” she said.
American Express created the Small Business Saturday campaign in 2010. A 2022 survey commissioned by American Express found the initiative drove $17.9 billion in U.S. spending last year.
At The Colony Shop in Patchogue, a children’s specialty store founded in 1946, co-owner Lori Belmonte said Small Business Saturday provides “a real good push for us.”
Cheryl Tursi, 44, of Manhattan and Matt Boffoli, 47, of Manorville were shopping for extra-virgin olive oil at nearby Amazing Olive as part of their effort to shop local and avoid "the big box conglomerates," Tursi said.
Shoppers got an early start in Farmingdale Saturday at small businesses along Main Street.
Elaine and Mike Young, of Massapequa, said they came to Runner's Edge to bolster local stores.
"It's tough out there in retail these days," said Mike Young, 68. "They need the help, and we're more than happy to help out."
Elaine Young, 61, said customer service also plays a pivotal role. "They know about runners," she said. "When you talk to them about a shoe, you know you're going to get better advice."
In Massapequa Park, Steve Rosenberg, 58, said he and his family make it a point to shop at small businesses throughout the year.
"We want to share the wealth," he said.
In Bay Shore, Christmas songs played over speakers before the start of a Winter Festival sponsored by the Bay Shore Beautification Society. The Chamber of Commerce of Greater Bay Shore encouraged people to visit downtown stores for holiday shopping while enjoying the festivities.
A sidewalk sign outside Earth'n Vessel Pottery Studio urged visitors to "shop local."
Lisa Di Stefano, the studio manager for the store, which is celebrating its 25th year, said there was a steady flow of customers Saturday after a busier-than-usual Black Friday.
"It definitely has helped us start our holiday sales sooner than what we would normally do," she said of Small Business Saturday.
In Glen Cove, Joe Valensisi, owner of Henry's Confectionery, said the store, which has been around for nearly a century, lends its success to repeat customers — loyal shoppers who make the business part of their routine across generations.
"The best is when you start hearing people say, 'Oh, I used to come here when I was a child.' They're bringing their kids, and now they're bringing grandkids in here, too," said Valensisi.
Matt Harrigan was tending the counter for HoneyGramz in Great Neck Saturday morning, filling an order for a customer who he said comes in regularly to get some of the fresh honey gathered by his wife, beekeeper Ruth Harrigan.
The two co-own the business, and Harrigan said his wife makes a point to serve the local community, including selling kosher honey to meet the needs of the village's Jewish population.
"We're supporting them by being here, but they're supporting us," he said.