By Patrick Donachie
In the wake of the Black Friday consumer bonanza, local businesses throughout the borough celebrated Small Business Saturday this weekend, urging customers to support the tiny shops that dot the avenues of Queens.
“Small businesses need the support of their community because small businesses are the ones who give back to the community,” said Margaret Ioannou, the owner of the Bayside-based Karma Boutique. “We try to help customers shop locally.”
Karma Boutique, a women’s clothing and apparel store, was one of the many Bayside businesses that participated in the event that began in Massachusetts in 2010 as a push to encourage shoppers to forgo the chain stores in lieu of local mom-and-pop establishments. Ioannou said Karma Boutique had been on Bell Boulevard for more than 13 years and had a robust collection of loyal customers who support the establishment.
Lyle Sclair, the executive director of the Bayside Village Business Improvement District, was on hand Saturday afternoon at the Bayside LIRR stop. He was handing out copies of the BID’s 2016 Holiday Coupon Book, which included discounts for dozens of Bayside shops. Many of the discounts extended into January, which Sclair said was to accommodate traveling Bayside residents.
“If people are still out of town, they can still take advantage throughout the holiday season,” Sclair said, lauding the opportunity Small Business Saturday affords consumers. “It’s a great time to meet the business owners.”
Turn the Page…Again, a tiny enclave nestled along Bell Boulevard, was one of the participating businesses included in the coupon book. The bookstore opened in February 2010 as a rehabilitative program run by Whitestone-based Transitional Services for New York, which helps people recovering from mental health issues. Employees at the bookstore can obtain valuable retail experience at the store, preparing them for other employment opportunities. The weekend manager, who gave his name only as Mr. Chen, said there were several sales early in the day on Small Business Saturday.
“Bayside treats us so wonderfully and we participate in all the business fairs,” he said. “We have a lot of regular customers who come in here every weekend to pick out their books.”
Small Business Saturday takes place each year on the day after Black Friday. In 2015, approximately 95 million customers went out to shop at small businesses, according to a survey commissioned by American Express, which helped to promote and push the Small Business Saturday concept at its inception. Another survey commissioned by the credit card company found that shoppers spent about $14.3 billion at small businesses on Small Business Saturday in 2014.
Reach reporter Patrick Donachie by e-mail at pdona