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How one N.J. town is helping its small businesses during the holiday season

By November 22, 2023No Comments

(This column originally appeared in The Inquirer)


Just 15 minutes from Philadelphia, Haddonfield, N.J., is known for its charm, exemplified by the shops and restaurants along Kings Highway that make up the town’s more than 200 businesses. Like so many other small towns across the country, many of the businesses in Haddonfield are small businesses and they’re preparing for what could be their biggest shopping day of the year: Small Business Saturday.

The day after Black Friday was launched as a marketing promotion by American Express in 2010, and this year expects to generate more than $184 billion in sales for small businesses across the country.

According to a recent survey from Bankrate, more holiday shoppers will likely shop on Small Business Saturday than Black Friday this year. That’s because 90% of all U.S. adults enjoy the experience of shopping small for at least one reason over shopping with large businesses, and 51% of U.S. adults feel the unique gift ideas offered by smaller merchants provide a better experience, according to the survey.

“People want to support small businesses which is why Small Business Saturday is our largest campaign of the year,” says Michael Marciante, executive director of Downtown Haddonfield. “We are advertising locally and have already spent about $25,000 for decorations and entertainment downtown.”

The town also offers a Mastercard-backed community gift card, which can be redeemed at specific stores and is “a great gift idea for the holidays if you’re looking to support local,” Marciante said.

How Haddonfield small businesses prepare

Chocolate and pastry store MECHA Chocolate will be offering online discounts to customers who order products in advance.

“This helps us plan our production schedule for the holidays and the customer can cross some gift giving experiences off their lists.” said owner Melissa Crandley.

The store will also be offering a “sip and shop” event Saturday to highlight its holiday offerings.

“We use events like this to offer promotions and special products because they’re a great way to kick off the holiday season and promote shoppers to shop local,” said Crandley.

Nearby, A Little Whimsy, a baby and children’s boutique, is not only planning to offer storewide savings on Small Business Saturday, but to serve up “breakfast treats.”

“We really enjoy Small Business Saturday because so many of our customers come out to support us and it’s a wonderful feeling to see so many of them in one day,” said Halle Hird, the store’s owner. “Small Business Saturday is hands-down our biggest holiday.”

Offering deals beyond shopping

Marciante also uses Small Business Saturday to emphasize Haddonfield’s ”Brunch Big, Shop Small” weekend, where many of its downtown merchants and restaurants have pledged to open early and offer deals.There are close to ten brunch spaces in the downtown area alone, and they’re a great way to attract shoppers to Kings Highway, he noted.

“The town does a great job promoting these events,” said Anthony Lipot, owner of Wanda BYOB, a small restaurant nestled in the heart of the town’s shopping district. “Shame on us as owners if we don’t take advantage of it.”

Lipot said Wanda plans to open earlier to entice shoppers in for brunch.

Earth Eats Co, a woman owned health food café and juice bar that focuses on using “real ingredients,” is celebrating its first year in the town. Earth Eats is offering a special brunch menu for Small Business Saturday and other promotions.

In addition to offering storewide sales on products like juice cleanses, sea moss, and candles, owner owner Brianna Palmer said Earth Eats “will also be launching our own small line of products on Small Business Saturday, something we are very excited about!”

Most business owners know that Small Business Saturday can be an enormous boost to sales. But it takes planning and work to prepare. And it also helps when your business community works together. Palmer, like others, said it’s important to collaborate with other business owners on combination gift boxes, joint promotions, and events.

“It’s a fun way to support another business and have customers be able to shop two or three of their favorite businesses in one spot,” she said.

Marciante said that for every $100 spent in Haddonfield’s downtown, $70 is circulated back into the community.

“You’re not feeding into a machine, you’re feeding into a family in a lot of ways,” he said. “That’s what we are. We all know each other, we all text each other. We help each other out in a pinch and make sure we’re all participating in the right events.”

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