BERLIN - As shoppers milled inside Good Cause Gifts Saturday morning, scooping up the fancy angels and women’s clothing on sale for 20 percent off, store manager Sharon Faucher was busy finding merchandise a patron wanted, while explaining why the store was so packed.
“We offer 20 percent of the total sale off on Small Business Saturday,” Faucher said. “Every year, people come and they love it. We’re not a Black Friday store. This is the day that people want something low key in their own town.”
Last year on Small Business Saturday, about 112 million Americans spent $15.4 billion at independent neighborhood retailers and restaurants across the country, according to the federal Small Business Administration.
“Small businesses are the engine of our national economy. We now have in the United States about 30 million small businesses. About half of all American workers are either employed by a small business or own a small business. And two out of three new jobs are created by small business. Those are pretty powerful and compelling statistics,” said SBA Administrator Linda McMahon in the press release.
Amato’s Toy and Hobby store on Main Street in New Britain was hopping, thanks to its Small Business Saturday sale. The sale actually started last week, but on Saturday Amato’s was offering buy-one-get-one-free items and 15 percent off others.
“We’re a small business and this is designed to give publicity to the mom-and-pop stores,” said Amato’s sales clerk Danica Levesque. The store participates every year, Levesque said.
“I think people are starting to realize that the crowds at the mall and the big box stores are not what they want anymore,” she said. “They want to come back to the basics.”
A few feet away, Debbie Mangon and her husband, Dave, of Berlin, were waiting in line to pay for a dinosaur bone kit for their granddaughter and a slot car kit for Dave.
“We’re shopping for Christmas for the kids and the big kid,” Mangon said with a laugh. “You can’t find this type of stuff anywhere.”
The Mangons were headed to Good Cause next to check out the Small Business Saturday sales there.
The store in Berlin is a non-profit run by Futures Inc., which is dedicated to creating and sustaining jobs with competitive wages for people with disabilities.
Jo-Ann Flynn, Futures’ adult services program director, was explaining the benefits of Small Business Saturday and the store’s mission when her friend, Joann Kramer, walked up with an armload of holiday decorations and other goods offered by Good Cause.
“I’m so excited she brought me here,” Kramer said as she kept insisting many of the items were gifts and not for herself. “It’s perfect here and it’s for a great cause.”
The store handed out Small Business Saturday pins and shopping bags to everyone who made a purchase. “This is a chance to highlight how people with disabilities can blend into the community,” Flynn said about the day. “It’s a community for us. This is truly what we are, this is a small business.”
Scott Fournier knows that it’s his knowledge and personal style as the owner of Bristol’s Shannon’s Diamonds & Fine Jewelry that has kept him in business for 43 years.For the past eight years, he’s opted to participate in Small Business Saturday.
“We believe in it,” Fournier said before stopping to speak to two customers about the differences among several diamond rings. “We’re a locally owned business. We’re local people, born and raised. We believe in promoting your business. This is about ‘don’t forget the little guy.’ ”
Shannon’s Diamonds & Fine Jewelry not only offers a wide selection of watches, rings, necklaces, earrings and other jewelry, it does repairs and will perform appraisals.
“We are the quintessential small business,” said Fournier, who mailed out 25-percent-off coupons good on Small Business Saturday. “We have five employees and have been in Bristol for 43 years.”
While people can purchase jewelry online or at the mall, they can’t get the same personal service that they do at his store, Fournier said. “We have a knowledgeable staff that can answer questions, we care about the community,” he said.
Lisa Backus can be reached at 860-801-5066 or Lbackus@centralctcommunications.com. Follow Lisa Backus on Twitter @LbackusNBH.