Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Despite special promotions and holiday trolleys, many Brooklyn shopkeepers looking for a boost on this past weekend’s Small Business Saturday -- the shopping day meant to promote local mom and pop shops -- didn’t see the business bounce they had hoped for.
“I had new people in the store, but I can’t say it was a big day,” said Karen Zebulon, owner of Gumbo – known for unique clothing, toys and handcrafted gifts -- at 493 Atlantic Avenue.
At Jacques Torres Chocolate, 62 Water Street in DUMBO, “Thanksgiving weekend is always busy,” said retail manager Linda Ungkhunchai. “I’m not sure if it was Small Business Saturday or just this time of year.” Ungkhunchai said that customers bought mostly hot chocolate and cookies.
Adrian Concha, general manager at the Hill Café at 17 Putnam Avenue off Fulton Street in Fort Greene, said this weekend’s Small Business Saturday promotion didn’t improve business. “I’m trying to figure it out,” he told the Brooklyn Eagle on Sunday. “We didn’t get the normal happy hour crowd from 5 – 8 p.m.” Business started picking up around 8:30 p.m., he said. “On Saturday everyone came in late; maybe we got a little less than usual.”
On the other hand, Brooklyn Flea's Holiday Gift Market at One Hanson Place in Fort Greene was packed with shoppers snatching up vintage clothing and crafts by local artisans.
Spreading out over three floors of the iconic Williamsburg Bank Building and including familiar food vendors in the basement, the Holiday Flea attracted a crowd looking for a shopping “happening” as well as unusual or handmade items.
The Brooklyn Night Bazaar, opening this weekend in Williamsburg with live entertainment and artisonal food, was also expected to pull in the crowds.
More shoppers started their holiday shopping before Thanksgiving this year, according to an American Express survey, and that might have cut into Black Friday and Small Business Saturday’s retail results. American Express initiated Small Business Saturday in 2010 to help their small business customers compete with the chain store’s Black Friday promotions, and figures show an increase in sales, at least in 2010.
This year the average Black Friday shopper said they would spend roughly $400, about 25 percent less than last year, according to American Express. Shoppers surveyed said they would probably spend about $100 on Small Business Saturday.
“I think Small Business Saturday would be better a week later,” said Gumbo’s Zebulon. “Shoppers have already spent their money on Black Friday, and they don’t get paid until the end of the month. A week later, closer to Christmas, people are in a shopping frame of mind.”
Local shops also have to contend with today’s shopping event: Cyber Monday (apparently now expanding to Cyber Week), with special online deals across the internet -- called one of the biggest shopping events of the holiday season. In 2011, according to Wikipedia, comScore reported that Cyber Week saw US consumers spend over $6 billion online from November 28 to December 2.