Small Business Saturday 2016
By: Molly Brown
Another Black Friday has come and gone, with online sales up by 21.6 percent in comparison to last year. Cyber Monday managed to rack up $3.45 billion in sales, making it the largest shopping day in U.S. e-commerce history. Holiday shopping reports such as these dominated post-Thanksgiving headlines, but what the media largely neglected to report on was the newest designated shopping day, Small Business Saturday.
Founded by American Express in 2010, Small Business Saturday is a day in which consumers are encouraged to support their communities by shopping locally. On the Saturday after Thanksgiving, small businesses across the nation offered special deals and discounts to increase traffic and to benefit the American Express ‘Shop Small’ movement. Although Small Business Saturday occurs only once a year, its greater mission is to promote local commerce every day of the week.
By shopping locally at Manchester’s small businesses, you can help promote their growth, discover talented artists working in our area, and find unique gifts not available at “big box” stores. I myself went shopping downtown this Small Business Saturday to check out some of the deals, and I was impressed by the quantity of distinctive goods being sold. Whether you’re in search for stocking stuffers or a thoughtful gift for a friend or family member, you’re bound to find something when holiday shopping at these stores!
Loft Fifty ~ 5 Commercial Street
We sell gifts that are different and quirky. We really try to carry one of a kind finds that you cannot buy anywhere else. – Diane Sage
Loft Fifty 5 opened its doors just over a year ago. The shabby chic store is located in the Manchester Millyard, and specializes in selling home décor items. The store is managed by owner Helen Sage and her daughter Diane. For Small Business Saturday, the mother/daughter duo featured a 10 percent off storewide sale, and kindly offered wine and hors d’oeuvres to customers. Some of Loft Fifty 5’s best-selling items this holiday season include their repurposed canvas handbags, knitted scarves, and hand poured soy candles.
With Heart and Hand ~ 823 Elm Street
The beauty of my store is that you may come in one day and not find what you’re looking for, but there very well could be something in the next day! – Kathy Hamel
With Heart and Hand has been in business for over twenty years now. This charming gift shop offers a variety of country style home décor, such as braided rugs, pottery, wreaths, and seasonal decorations. For Small Business Saturday, owner Kathy Hamel served ‘Friendship Soup’ to customers, which she has on sale among other packaged soups. Many of Kathy’s products are handmade crafted by the Amish, and she has new items in stock almost every day during the holidays. Kathy says some of her most popular items include light-up decorative frames, festive wreaths, and locally made jewelry.
Pop of Color ~ 816 Elm Street
We try not to duplicate what’s already around; each individual store should have its own personality. – Chelsea Stoddard
Pop of Color is the newest addition to the Downtown retail scene. This trendy gift shop has an Anthropologie-like flair to it, and features a different mixture of items ranging from baking supplies, handcrafted items and other unique finds. Owner Chelsea Stoddard, who also runs the bakery Queen City Cupcakes a couple doors down, opened Pop of Color with hopes of spurring retail on Elm Street. Chelsea and her mother Deb manage the store together, and will be offering free gift wrapping throughout the holiday season. Some of Chelsea’s favorite gifts include her reusable, recycled glass to-go cups, tea infusers, and couple’s pillowcase sets.
The Dancing Lion ~ 917 Elm Street
We are chocolatiers and artists. People come in every day and say our chocolate is too beautiful to eat, but it won’t be completed until you eat it. – Richard Tango-Lowy
The Dancing Lion on Elm Street is a hidden gem in Manchester, featuring some of the best chocolate on the continent. That’s right, Dancing Lion owner Richard Tango-Lowy was recently named one of the top ten chocolatiers in North America. Stop by his café to try some of his Traditional Style Mayan Drinking Chocolate, or register for one of his classes and learn the art of making chocolate! Tango-Lowy’s beautifully crafted holiday-themed chocolates are great gift ideas, and his delicious white chocolate can please anyone with a sweet tooth!
This is only a small sample of retail shops downtown Manchester. The city also boasts a variety of stores that sell athletic gear, antiques, women and men’s apparel, and jewelry. Don’t be too quick to shop at big department stores or online this holiday season, because you may find that perfect gift in one of Manchester’s specialty shops.
As part of our ongoing guest blog series, today’s post is written by Molly Brown, Manchester native and recent Assumption College graduate!