By Rod Lee
“Small Business Saturday” in downtown Whitinsville may still be two weeks away but the buzz on Church St. is already loud, as the twenty-seven merchants who are participating in the fourth edition of the event look forward to November 25th.
“It’s awesome,” Shauna Baker of The Flower Shop, 110 Church St., said. Ms. Baker had emerged from a work area to the rear of her full-service florist and gift shop to talk with a visitor about the Thanksgiving-weekend blowout.
“It brings people to town to see what we can offer,” Ms. Baker said. “We get a huge amount of traffic. I look forward to it every year. I bought a lot of Christmas merchandise for Shop Small and will be raffling a Christmas centerpiece with candles, delivered.”
Red balloons outside the doors of shops taking part and window signage are not the only indicator that something special is happening on the 25th. All of the businesses are running in-store giveaways and/or raffle-prize drawings. The Welcoming Lantern, 165 Church St., for instance, will once again make a Luminara candle available to “the lucky winner,” Owner Patrick Moran said. Laura VandenAkker, whose Many Creations store, 99 Church St., opened in September, said she will be doing “a tasting, featuring maple syrup and honey from Quissett Hill Farms in Mendon.” Peter Lacasse at Olde New England Antiques & Art Centre, 116 Church St., will be putting out apple cider and doughnuts as he did a year ago.
Also, in what has become a tradition, patrons of Shop Small will be able to pick up a punch card at the businesses they visit to become eligible for a grand raffle prize consisting of items being donated by all of the host businesses. “Completed punch cards can be dropped off at The Green Plate, Little Man Handbags or the Whitin Community Center”—three convenient locations at the top, middle and bottom of the street—Christine Guanipa, a lead organizer of Shop Small, said. Complementary babysitting will be available at the Community Center.
“Be sure to pick up a coloring page and have your little ones enter our Shop Small 01588 coloring contest,” Ms. Guanipa, of Little Man Handbags, said.
Shop Small will be a stop on a shopping tour of destinations in the Blackstone Valley provided by Foxy Travel, typically a sellout, that day, as well.
In discussing Shop Small, Ms. Guanipa, of Little Man Handbags, 110 Church St., said this year’s production will be enhanced by the inclusion of several first-time participants. Among these are Ms. VandenAkker’s Many Creations; The Green Plate, 167 Church St.; The Crafty Nest on the third floor of the Baker Building; The Artisan Market (“six ʽmompreneurs,’ all in their thirties I think, all have businesses, they’re creating a fun, hip vibe in space in the Northbridge Coffee House in the Pythian Building”), 76 Church St.; Jasmin’s Eyebrow Threading, 101 Church St., Suite 2; and Sparetime Rec, 117 Church St.
One-day “pop-ups” are also part of the show. Businesses taking advantage of the opportunity to participate with pop-up displays include Katalina’s Boutique, Marshall’s Jewelers, Faye Guanipa Designs and the Blackstone Valley Art Association (BVAA).
Laura VandenAkker of Many Creations and Danielle Desrosiers of The Green Plate, both new to the street, are understandably elated about the prospect of introducing themselves to the neighborhood.
“This is something I always wanted to do,” Ms. VandenAkker, whose store features creations by “more than forty artists who rent space, and other gift items, everything local or USA-made.”
With The Green Plate, Ms. Desrosiers is injecting a whole new element to Church St., “a healthy alternative” as she puts it, with a “grab-and-go menu,” fare to take out or sit and enjoy, hot specials, gluten free, heat-and-eat, catering, vegan and desserts.
“We will be offering cranberry or chia spice and pumpkin bread,” Ms. Desrosiers said, “and twenty-five percent of the proceeds from items sold that day will go to Piece of Bread at the Presbyterian Church,” an organization with which she has forged a relationship. Holiday pies will be sold at twenty percent off.
Ms. Desrosiers is no stranger to the Blackstone Valley. A former banker, she chose Church St. “because I’ve been in the Valley so long,” in part as president of “the Valley Business Network through the Chamber.”
As Ms. Guanipa and Jessie Schotanus of the Schotanus Design Center (“my right hand,” Ms. Guanipa said of Ms. Schotanus) pointed out in a press release issued in advance of November 25th, that Shop Small, which runs from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., will be steeped in “free giveaways, special gifts, activities, discounts, coupons and surprises for all ages.”
“This is our chance to give back to loyal customers and to share with new visitors the many services available in our quaint and historic downtown,” Michelle Siefken, owner of Art…Make It Real, 107 Church St., said.
“It is our hope to revitalize and reenergize a once-vibrant town and to introduce the community to local small businesses,” Ms. Guanipa said.
Contact Rod Lee at [email protected] or 774-232-2999.