Ray Bleser expects so many customers on Black Friday and Small Business Saturday that he's enlisted extra salespeople, including his eight-year-old granddaughter, Madeline.
“She's not afraid of a little work,” said Bleser, president of Northeastern Fine Jewelry, which has Capital Region locations in Schenectady, Albany and Glens Falls. “She loves the business already. She's got an office upstairs with her name on the door.”
Bleser plans to lure holiday shoppers with the promise of two gifts for the price of one. Customers who spend $999 in his stores on either Friday or Saturday will receive a $250 Amazon gift card. Those who spend $299 will receive a $75 one.
“You can shop with us on Friday and Saturday and then on Cyber Monday, you can go to Amazon and get whatever you didn't get here,” Bleser said.
As holiday shopping kicks into high gear, area businesses are rolling out all sorts of Black Friday and Small Business Saturday deals. The goal: to entice consumers to spend some -- if not all -- of their holiday budget at locally owned establishments.
BLACK FRIDAY AND BEYOND
A dozen downtown Saratoga Springs shops will open at 6 a.m. or earlier on Friday. From 6 to 7 a.m., they will offer discounts of at least 50 percent on select merchandise. Discounts will drop to 40 percent from 7 to 8 a.m., to 30 percent from 8 to 9 a.m., and then to 20 percent through the end of the day.
Additional retailers will open between 6 and 9 a.m. and offer varied discounts. Details, and a list of participating businesses can be found at blackfridaysaratoga.com.
“You would usually shop downtown Saratoga Springs because of the incredibly unique shops and boutiques it has to offer. On Black Friday you can enjoy all that and save money, too,” said Fran Dingeman, whose company, Network Saratoga, presents Black Friday Saratoga to benefit the downtown area.
Glenville has launched a “Shop Local, Shop Glenville” campaign to encourage holiday shoppers to support the town's small businesses on Black Friday and beyond. As part of the campaign, a tree lighting ceremony will be held at 7 p.m. Saturday, near the clock at the corner of Route 50 and Glenridge Road. The event will include a toy collection for children in need, a visit from Santa, music and free snacks.
Town supervisor Chris Koetzle said Glenville is a great holiday shopping destination.
“You can't beat the level of services you get from a Glenville small business, and it's worth way more than saving a few bucks online,” he explained. “Glenville has so much to offer. We have great shops, great restaurants, friendly people and none of the traffic you have to fight at some of the other towns around the area.”
A list of Glenville’s Black Friday sales was not compiled, but shoppers are sure to find bargains throughout town. Ember Hair and Beauty is one business that has a promotion planned. The salon, which opened in June, will offer 20 percent off hair and facial services and a 10 percent discount on products. The deals will extend through Saturday.
“When you purchase a service or product from a small business, you are literally backing somebody's dream,” said owner Amber Szady. “What is truly special about this is that you are, in turn, giving back to your own community.”
In the neighboring town of Rotterdam, Via|Port will open at 7 a.m. on Black Friday, to give shoppers plenty of time to take advantage of sales offered by businesses housed in the mall.
Not far from there, Rotterdam business JM Jewelers will offer a Black Friday promotion that will extend through Saturday. All gold jewelry, diamond jewelry and gold-and-gemstone jewelry will be on sale for 30 percent off regular prices. All sterling silver jewelry will be 15 percent off regular prices and all watches will be 25 percent off regular prices.
“Small business customers receive one-on-one, personalized service. You build trust,” said owner Sheryll Graubart-Hoffman. “With my business, I also form relationships with my customers. Some of those go back 30-plus years. Some of the customers are second generation.”
SMALL BUSINESS SATURDAY SALES
On Saturday, Schenectady County will be a go-to destination for bargain shoppers. Close to 30 businesses, ranging from retail operations to the YMCA, will offer specials as part of a promotion sponsored by the Downtown Schenectady Improvement Corporation and the Capital Region Chamber.
A list of participating businesses and the specials they will offer can be found at downtownschenectady.org.
Jim Salengo, executive director of Downtown Schenectady Improvement Corporation, said shopping in Schenectady is a one-of-a-kind experience.
“The retailers work really hard on their inventory and they live and breathe it every day. I think they love creating relationships as much as they love operating the business,” he said.
More than a dozen Ballston Spa businesses will offer special deals Saturday in conjunction with a promotion organized by the Ballston Spa Business and Professional Association. A printable map of participating businesses is being compiled and will be available at ballston.org.
Shoppers will find unique gifts and can easily make Saturday’s excursion an all-day event, said Ellen Mottola, executive administrator for the Ballston Spa Business and Professional Association.
“It's that personal touch that you can't get from going online and hitting a few buttons. People can shop and then there are lots of great little places to pop in and have lunch,” she said.
A variety of Saratoga Springs stores will offer 20 percent discounts on Small Business Saturday and will hand out free reusable totes with each purchase.
Tonya Pellegrini, director of marketing and promotions for the Saratoga Springs Downtown Business Association, said those sales are not part of an organized campaign, so there is no list available, but there will be plenty of bargains out there.
Pellegrini encourages shoppers to venture off the beaten path.
“There are some really great stores that are a half-block off Broadway that participate in those sales and they have some exceptional items,” she said.
The Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Business and Professional Association has distributed “Shop Small -- Visit us This Saturday” lawn and window signs to area small businesses to remind the public to shop local this holiday season. The association’s reach encompasses the town of Ballston and parts of Charlton, Glenville and Clifton Park.
“I think part of the reason that people move to Small Town USA, for lack of a better term, is they like the small business feel,” said Christopher Newell, the association’s president. “They want to get away, maybe, from a lot of the big box stores, and if you spend money with a small business, it’s more apt to stay in the community.”
In honor of Small Business Saturday, the Albany-based New York Business Development Corporation is promoting a list of Capital Region businesses that have been supported with loans from the corporation. The businesses all offer products or services appropriate for gift giving or that can be used in holiday celebrations. The list can be found at shopsmall.nybdc.com.
“Supporting local small businesses is a year-round mission at New York Business Development Corporation,” said regional president Jim Conroy. “In line with that mission, we’re encouraging Capital Region residents to look beyond big box retail or online shopping for holiday gift giving. Purchasing from locally owned restaurants, spas and retail shops helps create local jobs and ensures that communities throughout the region remain some of the most vibrant in the state.”
Reach freelance writer Kelly de la Rocha at [email protected]