Friday, July 12, 2019

Small Business Saturday Street Festival and Happy Birthday Gardner Celebration set for June 29 - Worcester Telegram

Small Business Saturday Street Festival and Happy Birthday Gardner Celebration set for June 29 - Worcester Telegram

Small Business Saturday Street Festival and Happy Birthday Gardner Celebration set for June 29 - Worcester Telegram

Posted: 20 Jun 2019 12:00 AM PDT

GARDNER — The city is getting ready for a party and everybody is invited downtown.

While there is an 80-year tradition of a Sidewalk Sale in August, conditions may not be conducive to the event this year as summer road and sidewalk work is planned.

But the Small Business Saturday Street Festival and Happy Birthday Gardner Celebration is set for June 29 and more than make up for it, incorporating the small business day and sidewalk sales. The Gardner News is the media sponsor for this event.

With areas of the downtown blocked off, "We invite people to go into the street and meet your neighbors," Alan Leblanc said, with businesses such as his John's Sport Shop welcoming people to explore the downtown.

It is the first year for the new street festival, he said.

"The last Small Business Saturday was incredibly busy," he said. So it made sense to expand that event, with many activities planned.

"The Small Business Saturday that is traditionally held in November is so important to the business community," said to Square Two Director Patti Bergstrom, owner of The Velvet Goose. "But one day devoted to supporting the locals is not enough. We are so excited about this new festival and hope that everyone will show up and be fabulous. It's going to be a very special day in our downtown."

Celebrating the small and locally owned businesses in the city, the event also serves as a birthday party for the city, which turns 234 this year.

With Main Street and Parker Street closed off to traffic from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. there will be no impediments for pedestrians enjoying the downtown festival. The festival itself will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

In addition to downtown businesses, more than 17 other businesses and nonprofits will join the celebration with booths, according to Bergstrom.

People should attend prepared for shopping, entertainment and eating.

In addition to the Ale House anchoring the food court, Bergstrom said there are seven other food vendors that day.

And plenty of other things to do, too.

"And people can picnic on the green space where the Maki Building used to be," Bergstrom said.

"There is great entertainment and a lot of freebies," Bergstrom said, listing several, from apple crisps and ice cream treats to cake to mark the city's 234th birthday.

List of events

The activities include a Square Two itinerary Welcome Tent set up inside of HOPEful Boutique on Pleasant Street, where visitors can get a Cup of Hope coffee, sponsored by Edward Jones Financial Adviser Ryan Laliberte, current president of Gardner Square Two.

Swag bags with donations from area businesses will be given to the first 50 families. The bags contain gifts, samples, coupons and fun surprises donated by area businesses, Bergstrom said.

The Raffle to benefit Holiday Lights will also be set up there.

Square Two put forth a dizzying array of things to do.

Several of the stores plan to host sidewalk sales outside, including Lakin's, John's Sport Shop and The Velvet Goose. Square Two members including Mount Wachusett Community College, GFA Federal Credit Union and Gardner Ten Pins will set up tents for their organization in the square. In addition, several local nonprofits and home-based businesses will be attending.

There will be music in the street as JCB DJ Services will be hosting the festivities. The morning will begin with music from Just Rita, a local entertainer. Boston Piano Kid Bradley James will be downtown from noon to 1:30 p.m., sponsored by Heywood Wakefield Commons. He is best known for his performances in Faneuil Hall and in Fenway Park, but this is his third year performing on Main Street, Bergstrom said.

The Kids Zone, located in the parking lot of Bank of America, will be sponsored by Chair City Church. The huge setup will include bouncy houses, kids games, face painting and characters all manned by volunteers from the church. According to Pastor Dave Tralongo, the youth of the church can earn credits for volunteering at this event and then use those credits toward future trips and activities sponsored by the church, according to Square Two information.

New this year are "Selfie Stations" set up throughout downtown. Moon Hill Brewing will have a wooden cutout that visitors can put their heads through and snap a photo. John's Sport Shop has reached out to the Boston Red Sox and will have some players — or at least their cutouts — that customers can pose with.

The Yoga Tree has a dino in a yoga pose that visitors can do yoga with. The Velvet Goose has hired living statuary to stand with guests in their selfies. Guests can also pose with the Police Department and Wood's Ambulance.

Congresswoman Lori Trahan will participate in a meet-and-greet from 2 to 3 p.m., accompanied by state Rep. Jon Zlotnik.

There will be pottery demonstrations at Studio 4 Potters on West Lynde Street all afternoon.

Festivalgoers may want to visit Parker House of Pizza, which will serve free Happy Birthday Gardner cake starting at 3 p.m. Fidelity Bank will sponsor the Frosty Flyer, which will hand out free ice cream treats midday.

For those who want to experience more culinary options, Red Apple Farm will be selling cider doughnuts, dumplings, pies and more. My Sweet Escape will be selling cupcakes, cookies, whoopie pies. And Gardner Friendly's will be serving up ice cream and drinks.

The food court will be set up on Parker Street, anchored by the beer garden at Gardner Ale House. After the success of the recent Food Truck Festival, Maribel Cruz, economic development coordinator for the city, was able to bring in several food trucks for the event including Shane's Hot Dogs, Buen Provecho and Uncle E's BBQ, according to Square Two.

Looking ahead to the fall, for those who enjoyed the June event and want to plan in advance, another festival is planned for Sept. 28.

Small Business Saturday isn't a novelty anymore – independent retailers depend on it - CNBC

Posted: 23 Nov 2018 12:00 AM PST

For Mackenzi Farquer, Small Business Saturday is a big deal.

The owner of Queens, New York-based Lockwood gift shop, which sells kitchenware, clothing and paper goods, says there's often barely room to stand in her locations on the retail holiday between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

"It's our busiest day of the year," Farquer says. "I think people in this neighborhood especially are trained to know that this the day to come out and shop at small businesses. They are not only coming for holiday shopping, they also want to be here to support us."

And those shoppers show their support in a big way — that day alone accounts for some 8 percent of Lockwood's overall holiday sales. "It's at a fever pitch and growing every year," she says.

Small Business Saturday, now in its ninth year, is sponsored by American Express and encourages consumers to get out and shop "small" supporting local retailers and restaurants in person and online. Last year, nearly $13 billion was spent on that day alone, a slight dip from 2016.

This year, data from Amex and the National Federation of Independent Business finds some 83 percent of consumers say they plan to do at least some of their holiday shopping at a small independently owned retailer or restaurant either in person, or online. Nearly 6 in 10 consumers nationwide say they are aware of the shopping holiday, and among them, 80 percent plan to shop at independent retailers that day.

John Lund/Marc Romanelli | Getty Images

Meanwhile, data from CNBC and SurveyMonkey's Small Business Saturday poll finds some 44 percent of consumers say they will patronize a small business on the day this year, up slightly from 2017, and 58 percent say they will shop in person. Overall this season, 28 percent said they will spend less while 14 percent said they will spend more.

This year, American Express has also expanded the holiday to Puerto Rico for the first time and is sponsoring events including popup shops with Etsy, campaigns to support female-owned businesses and more.

"Small Business Saturday is a great chance to drive awareness and keep small businesses top of mind," said Raina Moskowitz, Etsy's SVP of people, strategy and services. "Mass retailers play a great role in convenience and price, but when you shop from a small business, there is a story behind what you are buying. so it's more personal and thoughtful, especially for the holiday season."

Small business owners like Mackenzie Farquer are gearing up for Small Business Saturday, when shoppers are encouraged to patronize small, local retailers.

Kate Rogers | CNBC

Heather Parker sells dog bow ties, leashes and other gifts online and at her shop Crew LaLa in Charleston, South Carolina. It's her fifth year participating in Small Business Saturday, and each year sales have doubled, Parker said. Last year, the day accounted for 12 percent of the company's overall holiday season sales, and even brought in new, repeat customers.

"Last year 40 percent of our customers from Small Business Saturday were first-time customers," Parker said. "Of that 40 percent, 65 percent actually turned into returning customers."

The store even has to bring in extra employees for the weekend and the rest of the holiday season.

"We have to beef up for it because we get such a response from Small Business Saturday," Parker said. "Having a day that really shows support … is really inspiring. It helps us and kind of fuels us for the rest of the year."

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