One day after the biggest shopping day of the holiday season, small businesses in Bergen County continued to see an uptick in sales as consumers continued to spend and support their local businesses as part of AMEX's Small Business Saturday.
In Englewood, shop owners saw a slow start to the day as customers waited until late morning to start hitting the streets. At the same time, city employees were able to dedicate time to decorating lamppoles and utility work continued on Dean Street.
"I think AMEX should be commended for honoring small businesses in the downtown districts," Marla Weinglast of Complements said. "We're seeing more customers want to support their local businesses because they know the owners and sales team on a personal level."
Weinglast added that she and other businesses began seeing a larger uptick in sales on Black Friday and more customers were shopping in Englewood yesterday in larger numbers than past years.
Rachel Brazaitis of Patty's Closet also noticed more customers shopping locally in Englewood over the past two days. The Las Vegas-based franchise came to Englwood in August but struggled with bringing customers into the doors during the fall months as construction on Dean Street took place.
"Since then, things have picked up drastically," Brazaitis said. "Small Business Saturday is a great opportunity, especially in Englewood because it is known for the boutiques. It gives us the chance to be as prosperous as the big corporations which jeopardize the market these days."
At the same time though, some businesses including Mama's & Papa's Petshop had no idea that AMEX was sponsoring the event.
Abbey Golden and Steve Burns at Bergen County Camera said they were looking forward to Small Business Saturday but by noon, none of their customers had asked about it.
"Black Friday was busier," Golden said while adding that the Westwood location has been seeing customers nonstop. "Saturday's are normally slow in the mornings because we have a large Orthodox community."
Business was good in nearby Ridgewood, which offered free parking on Saturday to further entice shoppers.
At Savvy Chic Boutique, boots, hats and other discounted items were being dropped into bags of smiling shoppers.
Wednesday and Friday were big days for the popular consignment shop at the Old Post Office building.
“Yesterday was crazy, Sidewalk Sale busy,” owner Randi Morein said. “Today has been very busy as well.”
The store is offering a 20 percent discount and has been reaping the benefits, she said.
“We outdid ourselves compared to last year,” Morein told Patch. “You like to support small businesses. We provide personal treatment, suggestions on styles and help customers find the right presents.”
That personal touch just can’t be found at the malls, local merchants said.
“We’re having a really great day,” exclaimed Mary Frances Kattak, manager of Pink Bungalow. “Small Business Saturday has been a big success for us.”
Dozens of eager shoppers at Pink Bungalow were hoisting up Vera Bradley handbags – on sale, of course – and even registering Amex cards around noon. The turnout has exceeded even last year’s high-volume sale day, Kattak added.
Much of the success can be credited to DIY marketing, she said. Pink Bungalow blitzed Facebook to promote the Saturday event.
Black Friday has never been a great day for Ridgewood merchants but Small Business Saturday has since filled the void, according to Ridgewood Guild head Tony Damiano.
For Damiano, who owns gift shop Mango Jam, it’s the best day of the year.
“I think American Express has a great marketing campaign,” he said. “It’s in sync with what should happen since many small businesses are suffering today and the reason is not just the economy – it’s these big box retailers, these mass merchants who have hurt a lot of small retailers in every classification.
“As a kickoff to the holiday season, I have to say Small Business Saturday is doing what it’s supposed to do.”
Trendy village clothing shop Suite 201 was mobbed on Wednesday and did gangbusters on Friday, according to owner Alina Leshiner. It was a bit slow on Saturday for Leshiner, but she welcomed the less frantic pace given the week she’s had.
“All week has just been insane,” she said.
Leshiner, like others, stressed the importance of helping out the little guy.
“Shoppers really should support the small businesses. If not for us, it would just be a lot of empty spaces. The small merchants here really make this town.”
Customers who registered ahead of time for Small Business Saturday and spend over $25 at participating stores will receive a $25 credit to their AMEX bill.
American Express founded the day in 2010 to help small businesses get exposure during the holiday season, when they might be otherwise overlooked.
Last year, 100 million people nationwide participated in Small Business Saturday by shopping at locally owned stores to help boost the economy and their communities.