Small Business Saturday is weeks away, but the Greater Pittston Chamber of Commerce (GPCC) is already getting local businesses ready for the big day.
Brandi Bartush, GPCC administrator/events coordinator, and Michelle Mikitish, GPCC executive vice president, are spending the upcoming weeks delivering event kits to local businesses who are members of the Chamber.
“The purpose of it is to help promote, support, and connect small businesses for Small Business Saturday,” said Bartush.
Small Business Saturday is Nov. 25 this year.
The Chamber helps local businesses with advertising and promoting their business for those who don’t have the time or the money to do so.
“It’s harder I think with these smaller businesses, especially those that have five or fewer employees; they never get a break,” Mikitish said.
Included in the kits are balloons, posters, welcome mats, pennants, pet bandanas, hearts to display in windows, tent cards and other items to promote Small Business Saturday.
Mikitish said they will distribute kits to 20 businesses in Greater Pittston, and have already handed them out to Valley Meat & Delli in Avoca, Robin Hill Florist in Exeter, and Duchess Outlet and Merle Norman Cosmetics, both in Pittston.
Bill Renfer and his wife Ginger have owned Valley Meat & Delli, located at 629 Main St., for seven years, and he said Small Business Saturday is one of their busiest days of the year.
“They come from all over,” he said. “They come from all towns and we’ve been very blessed with the business.”
Valley Meat & Delli sells subs and hoagies as well as burgers, salads, and breakfast sandwiches Tuesday through Saturday.
Renfer said the Chamber’s help in promoting Small Business Saturday has been a huge help.
“Anytime you can promote a small business, that’s just a major help to us,” he said.
Duchess Outlet, located at 75 William St., has been in business for over 60 years in Pittston and sells items such as men’s and women’s coats and jackets while also selling collectible items such as Hansa Toys, Folkmanis Puppets, Madame Alexander and much more.
Julio Craprari, son of owner store owner Paul Caprari, said Christmas time is usually the business’s busiest time of the year and Small Business Saturday plays a key role in that.
“I would say it’s steady, balancing between online sales and in store sales,” Julio said of Small Business Saturday.
Despite being in business for so long, the Duchess Outlet has found success on Small Business Saturday because of the crucial role the Chamber has played.
“It’s a tremendous help,” Julio said of the Chamber. “It’s just great that we have some like-minded business owners and we have the great help of Brandi and Michelle. We couldn’t do this without the help of the Chamber.”
Jane Chropowicki has been the owner of Merle Norman Cosmetics, located at 77 S. Main St., for 20 years and sells retail cosmetics and skin care items, while also offering pedicures.
Small Business Saturday is often a steady day for Chropowicki, but she said that entire weekend is busy for her.
“We’re going right into Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and then I do my Holiday Open House that Sunday,” she said. “It’s a busy weekend to start the holiday season.”
Chropowicki is familiar with trying to get small businesses recognition, as she is the chairperson of the Small Business Merchants Association, an organization coordinated by the GPCC of local businesses with the purpose of promoting their own business while helping others do the same.
She commended the Chamber for doing its part in helping small businesses gain more recognition and helping them promote Small Business Saturday.
“(Small Business Saturday) is going to kick off some of the promotions that we have planned with the Small Business Merchants Association,” Chropowicki said. “We’re working hang-in-hand to make it successful to shop local and do Small Business Saturday.”
Robin Hill Florist, located at 915 Exeter Ave., has been in business for 20 years and is the place to go for fresh flowers, plants, balloons, poetry, stuffed animals, centerpieces and more.
Owner Kathleen O’Brien said her business won’t be open on Small Business Saturday because the Thanksgiving weekend is dedicated to being with family, but orders can still be placed online at www.robinflorist.com.
She mentioned that in the weeks leading up to Christmas the store gets a lot of orders.
“Christmas is one of our biggest holidays of the year for us,” O’Brien said. “It’s the beginning of the holiday season for us.”
“We’re promoting Kathleen’s business as, even though Shop Small Saturday is for people to shop small and recognize the small businesses, it’s also to promote the holiday season that’s upcoming,” Bartush said.
Thanks to the kit provided by the Chamber, O’Brien can still display balloons, pennants and other items to encourage people to shop local, even though her doors will be closed on Small Business Saturday.
Outside of Small Business Saturday, though, she said the Chamber has been a constant presence in helping her advertise and promote her shop.
“They are awesome,” she said. “They never stop coming up with new ideas and that’s what I love about them. They’re always trying to come up with ways to promote our local businesses; they’re always trying to have events to get together so we can meet each other, and they have them at all different times during the day and night.”
Businesses can become part of the GPCC by visiting its website or calling 570-655-1424.
Businesses wishing to promote their special Small Business Saturday deals with the Chamber may submit information to firstname.lastname@example.org or by fax to 570-655-0036 by Tuesday, Nov. 21.
Reach Jimmy Fisher at 570-704-3972 or on Twitter @SD_JimmyFisher