Local businesses are reporting a strong kickoff to the holiday shopping season.
“It was nice,” said Richard Mare, president of the Jay Street Business Association. “We had a lot of people out and around who came out to support (local businesses). I think people were happy with it.”
Small Business Saturday is a national event that takes place the day after Black Friday. For the past three years, three Schenectady business organizations have teamed up to promote the event, which encourages community members to shop at local businesses.
Many shops on Union Street, Jay Street and State Street offered special deals and drawings for customers who stopped by on Saturday.
Holiday revenues make up the majority of annual sales for locally-owned business, Mare said. As a result, events like Small Business Saturday are key to small-businesses’ success.
Mark Eagan, CEO of the Capital Region Chamber of Commerce, described the shopping season as “make or break” for many small businesses.
“If we want to continue to have those kinds of stores, make an effort to stop at an independent store,” he said. “The only way to keep them is if we patronize it.”
He added that local store owners are often more connected with their shoppers and can tailor special events and deals to suit them.
Todd Shimkus, president of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce, echoed that sentiment, saying local stores are able to use social media to reach loyal customers and create deals during the holidays as a way to give back to that base.
Both Eagan and Shimkus said Black Friday and Small Business Saturday were successful in the region. Eagan said he heard lots of positive feedback, which he hopes is a good indicator for the rest of the holiday season.
Though there isn’t another day this year dedicated to holiday shopping, there could be a seasonal addition to Jay Street in coming weeks.
Several vendors are interested in participating in a holiday bazaar that could be set up in the Jay Street space recently vacated by Hermie’s Music. The marketplace would include vintage dealers, craftspeople and gift baskets, said Mare, who also owns Downtown Designs.
He’s hopeful the vendors can be ready to go by Dec. 10, which is when Schenectady hosts its City Hall-iday event. The celebration will include activities such as horse-drawn carriage rides and a chance to see Santa Claus.