STROUDSBURG, MONROE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU)– It’s the holiday season and there’s far from a monopoly on holiday shopping by big box stores or online sales.
Amanda Beam has really spearheaded the Small Business Saturday organization for downtown Stroudsburg. Pocono Soap makes this annual tradition a true community staple.
“So five years ago we opened this store and there was no group putting together all the specials for all the stores so I thought that would be something I could do, since we have a gift shop here at Pocono Soap,” she said. “We really try to search out Pennsylvania-made items because we can’t compete with Amazon. We can’t compete with Kohl’s and all of that so we want to bring things to people that they can’t just go order online.”
Places like Pocono Soap and the Potting Shed behind American Ribbon are some of the businesses that embody the annual shopping on a personal level.
“Small Business Saturday is so important for everybody in the small business world because it puts your name out there with people,” said Potting Shed’s Judy Henry. “It makes them think about shopping local instead of going to the big box stores. They come to you. It’s very important because it doesn’t just put you in their mind that day, they’ll remember you from that point forward.”
Small Business Saturday has been growing in popularity for more than a decade.
“It’s a good way to get people out from the mall who want to come to small shops like ours,” said Fitzpatrick’s owner Paula Fitzpatrick. “Now with the snowmen here on Main Street, everybody’s going to be down here looking at that. It’ll be great.”
She loves seeing the holiday crowds, growing businesses, and what they end up doing for the area.
“It’s going to be good. Hopefully, a lot of people will come down because there’s more shops on Main Street now than there normally are,” said Fitzpatrick. “The more things that come into town, that’ll help people draw from the malls, hopefully.”
One of the biggest selling points of Small Business Saturday versus Black Friday or Cyber Monday is the people.
“That one-on-one experience is definitely something that we try to hit home and let people know we are here for them,” added Henry. “To make their shopping experience relaxed and enjoyable.”
While online shopping may be convenient, there’s room for error which could spoil some holiday cheer.
“Well, I don’t know about other people, but I know personally, I don’t like to shop online and stuff because the quality is not the same,” noted Fitzpatrick. “I like to go and see stuff myself, put my hands on it, look at it and that way you’re not disappointed.”
“Quality is the customer service so you get that interaction,” said Henry. “You can touch it, you can feel it, so you know what you’re getting before you take it home and you don’t open a box and say ‘oh, what is this?'”
And don’t think for one minute that the local shopping hasn’t evolved well past retail. It’s an entire experience now.
“10 percent off if you show a receipt from a store downtown so you can go get lunch and a discount, too. You can spread the love all throughout. We really tried to open it up to every small business. It doesn’t have to be a store. We even have some massage places doing specials if you get a massage that day, which we all could use,” said Beam. “We all actually get emotional at the end of the day because every one of our regulars makes it a point on their crazy weekend to stop in and even if it’s too crazy, they just stick their head in and say hey. They love it too and it’s kind of like a mutual thanks for both of us.”
Small Business Saturday is about local shops with local products and that special personal touch.
“When you shop locally you do support your neighbor,” said Henry. “You support your community because then we can put more stuff back into the community. We can help with the snowmen, help with different things having to do with downtown Stroudsburg to make your home, your hometown a better place to go visit.”
“Just do a little research to see what your local town is doing because you’d be surprised,” Beam added. “I guarantee you’ll have a memorable experience because this is what we do. This is what we love. This isn’t a corporation. This is our heart and soul. Next year, skip Black Friday and do Small Business Saturday.”