Santa, Small Business Saturday draw crowds downtown

MYSTIC – Hundreds of people descended on downtown Mystic
Saturday afternoon, and while the majority of them gathered in
Mystic River Park for Santa Claus’s 2 p.m. arrival, large crowds
also made their way across the bridge to some local shopping on
West Main Street.

In addition to Santa’s arrival and the annual tree-lighting
ceremony and boat parade that follow it, Saturday also marked the
second edition of “Small Business Saturday,” a marketing initiative
started last year by American Express and aimed at getting people
to do their holiday shopping at local businesses.

Local shopkeepers said many of their customers cited Small
Business Saturday as the reason they came downtown Saturday
afternoon.

Margaret Macris, owner of The Blue Horse Children’s Shop on West
Main Street, said the day had been promoted better this year than
last, and that promotion was paying dividends.

“People saw it on TV,” Macris said. “I had one lady trying to
register (her American Express card) in the store.”

The credit card company offered a $25 statement credit to
cardholders that registered on the Small Business Saturday Facebook
page and shopped at one of the small businesses listed on the
page.

In Mystic, many stores offered sales on their merchandise to
entice Small Business Saturday customers, many of who hadn’t
registered their cards, but wanted to support local businesses
anyway.

Rita P. Volkmann, a Mystic resident and member of the Groton
Board of Education, went shopping at Stonewear Clothing on West
Main Street Saturday afternoon.

“I’ve lived in this area for 40 years,” Volkmann said. “I know
it’s very important to shop locally.”

Stonewear Store Manager Cheryl Zamzes agreed with Macris’s
observation that the day had been promoted better this year than
last. She said customers had mentioned Small Business Saturday to
her before Thanksgiving.

“More people were aware of it this year,” Zamzes said. “They
were out at the beginning of the week … It’s gaining
momentum.”

Still, not everyone shopping in downtown Mystic on Saturday was
there specifically for the small business day. Regina Toomey, who
was working at The Mixed Bag next door to The Blue Horse, said that
by 3 p.m., she had only had one person mention Small Business
Saturday specifically.

Toomey said “lots of people” had been coming in and out of the
store all day, and she suspected some of them had been drawn out by
Small Business Saturday. Others were downtown to see Santa or just
to enjoy the unseasonably warm weather and clear skies, she
said.

Small Business Saturday isn’t the only opportunity to do holiday
shopping at local businesses. Holiday strolls are planned for
Stonington Borough on Friday, Dec. 2, and Mystic on Tuesday, Dec.
6. Downtown Mystic is also hosting its first holiday “Men’s night”
on Dec. 16, and holiday bazaars, markets and arts and crafts fairs
are too innumerable to list here.

More holiday events are available on the Mystic River Press and
Westerly Sun Community Calendar.
If you don’t see your event listed, you can
add it here
.


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