By Barbara Van Reed
Every year for six years, Whitinsville’s Shop Small 01588 added participants for the annual Shop Small Saturday event, the day after Black Friday, when small businesses get their turn to highlight specials for local shoppers.
This year, however, Christine Guanipa and Jessie Schotanus, co-organizers of Shop Small 01588, had to rethink the plans.
They did not want to lose the momentum built up over years by canceling the event this year, but COVID restrictions make it much harder for small merchants to welcome an influx of shoppers, said Christine, whose Little Man Originals storefront on Church Street can accommodate just a couple of customers at a time.
Last year, she said, when her shop had a backup of customers wanting to get in, they would wait patiently or go down the street to visit other places and come back later.
“Previous years have been very successful, and we did not want to just drop it. Church Street is just starting to have things happen.”
The two organizers decided to reach out to past participants with a new plan.
To avoid any large crowds, they proposed a week-long event, starting Saturday, November 28, through Saturday, December 5.
While off-street merchants had been invited to participate with “pop-ups” in a downtown space, this year, shoppers will have to go to their physical brick and mortar locations.
The map structure will be replaced with a Shop Small Passport, which will include all participating merchants as shopping destinations.
The new plan received an enthusiastic response, with more than a dozen businesses planning to participate.
Some local businesses have permanently closed since last year, The Welcoming Wagon, for one, and others will be closed for winter, such as the Tea Shop. Others, like hair salons, cannot have walk-ins.
But Christine and Jessie are happy with the many “yesses.”
“Everyone is pivoting, accommodating, and creatively continuing their business,” said Christine.
Look for details on Shop Small 01588 specials and gifts in the next issue of the Blackstone Valley Xpress.