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Customers flock to Small Business Saturday in Wallingford

WALLINGFORD — With a plate of chocolates on the counter and music playing softly in the background, Rick Sinkiewicz cashed out a customer, while chatting with others perusing around Redscroll Records on Small Business Saturday.

“Generally, Small Business Saturday is great,” said Sinkiewicz, co-owner of the record store at 24 N. Colony Road. “We’re not anti-Black Friday, but pretty much anything to support local, small businesses is all wonderful.”

The Saturday after Thanksgiving has become known as “Small Business Saturday.” It’s designed to drive business to mom and pop shops between the whirlwind of Black Friday sales offered by large retailers and Cyber Monday deals from online sellers.

President Barack Obama and his daughters shopped a locally owned Washington bookstore Saturday to draw attention to the day. He sent a tweet earlier Saturday about the importance of supporting small businesses.

“Anything that can help the downtown would be great,” said Town Councilor John LeTourneau,who is also the owner of Wallingford Lamp & Shade, 124 Center St. “Anything that could stimulate business would be fantastic.”

The day is also meant to remind shoppers that money spent in locally owned businesses is more likely to stay in the community. Despite the cold temperatures, there were cars parked down Center Street Saturday afternoon. Outside a number of businesses were large flags that read “open.”

Sal Greco, owner of Wallingford Flower Shoppe, 190 Center St., shared Letourneau’s opinion of Small Business Saturday, calling it “a great idea to bring attention to small businesses that are in people’s neighborhoods.”

“It reminds shoppers that small businesses are alive and strong,” Greco added.

Greco’s staff was busy going over orders and putting together floral arrangements. To remind his customers to shop local, he sent out an email blast and posted on the business’ Facebook page.

“It’s been a really busy day today,” Greco said. “... There’s been a lot of floor traffic, too.”

While department and chain stores may view find Black Friday as the biggest day of sales for business, some small businesses, like Panacea a Boutique, 136 Center St., get more customers on Small Business Saturday.

Co-owner Diana St. Pierre said there were 10 customers in the morning. While it may not be a large amount, co-owner Jennifer Whiting emphasized that “we usually only get a handful a day.”

“We can’t compete with the Black Friday sales,” said St. Pierre said. “But everybody that’s out there today, they’re out to support small businesses.”

Black Friday was the start of a weekend-long sale at Redscroll Records, Sinkiewicz said, and the business saw a large turnout.

While LeTourneau decided to keep his business closed through the weekend, he said he was looking forward to another day when residents come out to support the small businesses — the annual holiday stroll. The holiday stroll, which will begin at 4 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 4., is something residents look forward to each year, LeTourneau said, because it “reminds people of what the downtown used to be like on a Friday night.”

Greco agreed, adding that he enjoys seeing residents come out to support local stores during the holiday season.

“In conjunction with Small Business Saturday is the holiday stroll,” Greco said. “It’s nice to have two weeks that brings attention to small businesses.”

Information from the Associated Press was used in this story. (203) 317-2235 Twitter: @EricVoRJ

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