Merchants take matters into their own hands Saturday

Port store owners take over shop local event that last year flooded downtown with holiday shoppers

Like other stores in downtown Port Washington, Locally Inspired was packed with shoppers during last year's Small Business Saturday. Press file photo
Ozaukee Press staff

If last year was any indication, downtown Port Washington will be bursting at the seams with shoppers Saturday.

That’s because Nov. 26 is Small Business Saturday, and last year’s event had people flocking to downtown to not only get a start on holiday shopping but also support local businesses.

But unlike many downtown promotions, this one isn’t being led by Port Main Street Inc. Business owners took the helm, with Main Street helping publicize the event.

“I love that it’s business-led,” Main Street Executive Director Kristina Tadeo said. “That means we have a strong enough community of businesses who work well together to run events like this.

“We have one of the best lineups of small businesses in towns around the area. We have great mom-and-pop shops, unique shops.”

That’s important, Tadeo said, since Small Business Saturday comes right after Black Friday, when shoppers generally flock to big-box stores.

“For our small businesses to have their own day to shine is really important,” she said. “For a small business, the holiday shopping season is when they get a huge share of their profits. Small Business Saturday sets the tone.”

Port is hoping to not only draw local shoppers to downtown but also attract people from outside the community, Tadeo said.

“We’ve gotten some great attention this year, and we think that will happen,” she said.

Last year, Small Business Saturday significantly increased downtown traffic, merchants said.

Staci Cherubini, who owns Halo Artisan Skin Care and is an event organizer, noted that in general, businesses experience a 10% increase on Small Business Saturday.

That’s especially important for shops like hers, she said.

“For me, being on a side street, it’s an exciting day if I get double-digit people on a Saturday,” she said. “To draw that many people is important.”

Small Business Saturday starts when each participating business opens — the earliest is 7:30 a.m., Cherubini said.

The first shoppers to buy products at 13 participating downtown merchants will receive a swag bag — a tremendously popular promotion started last year — filled with a selection of samples, coupons and other offers from the stores.

Last year, Cherubini said, eight downtown shops gave away 260 tote bags decorated with a drawing of the city’s iconic lighthouse. The giveaway was so popular, she noted, that people were lined up outside the shops when they opened.

This year, 13 businesses will be giving away 425 bags to shoppers.

Not only do the samples give shoppers a taste of what businesses have to offer, the coupons give them a reason to linger downtown, Cherubini said.

“It’s a little giveback to people who support their local businesses. They make customers feel appreciated,” she said. “It’s an extra thank you to customers who shop.”

And, she said, “I definitely think having these little incentives gets people to say, ‘I’m going to shop in Port Washington today.’”

To build excitement, Cherubini said, a contest was held to pick the design on the tote bag. About 500 people cast online votes and overwhelmingly selected this year’s design out of 10 that were submitted.

The swag bags are filled with items from a number of participating downtown businesses, but not every item will be in every bag that’s handed out.

“Every bag is different,” Cherubini said.

Shoppers who bring a receipt from participating businesses into downtown eateries on Saturday will also receive a discount or special deal, she said.

“We want people to spend the whole day in downtown Port, shopping, eating and drinking,” Cherubini said.


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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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Port Washington, WI 53074
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