By Alberto Gilman
As the holiday season continues to draw closer and closer, the Liberty Street corridor and greater City of Newburgh welcomed local and visiting customers to browse stores, eat local food and shop small during the fourth annual Shop Small Newburgh event on the weekend of November 26 and 27.
The history of the well-known Shop Small Saturday began with its creation by American Express following the nationwide recession of 2010. Since its inception, Shop Small Weekend has been held on the Saturday following Thanksgiving Day with the goal in mind of welcoming local and visiting consumers to shop in local neighborhoods or areas and support the businesses through their purchases.
For the Shop Small Newburgh weekend event specifically, the Newburgh Illuminated Festival and Awesome Newburgh organizations were recognized as the main sponsors for the weekend while residents Cher Vickers, Jacqui Watkins, owner of Newburgh Mercantile and Angela Paul-Gaito, owner of APG Pilates led the organizational efforts during the course of the weekend. “It is a day that’s bringing people and bringing a positive light on Newburgh, that’s for sure,” said Paul-Gaito.
In Newburgh, the Liberty Street corridor has seen several businesses join within the past few months or have just recently celebrated several operational milestones. Similar to last year’s weekend event, patrons collected a business passport pamphlet from Newburgh Mercantile located at 75 Broadway, with listed businesses, business addresses and additional weekend promotions that each store was providing for the customers. Several months prior, the city also installed several electronic parking meters to the Broadway and Liberty Street corridors but the city announced the suspension of the meters for the weekend so customers could park freely while they shopped.
While the weekend was already in full swing, Paul-Gaito would go to the varying businesses and check in with them during the course of the afternoon. While maintaining the weekend operations of her business at 87 Liberty, Paul-Gaito also hosted several local market vendors that she connected with prior who set up their booths with homemade goods for customers. At the market was first time weekend vendor Isabel Rojas who set up her booth and shared that she loved the energy of the event and enjoyed meeting those who stopped by to browse her products. Rojas’s business, Healing Looks Great On You, is a local candle shop business that was created to spread mental health awareness.
As a first time business owner, she shared this piece of advice to any pursuing a business of their own. “If you’re thinking of starting a small business, jump in. You know, don’t hesitate. When you have a passion for something, I say follow it,” Rojas said.
Within the past few months, Liberty Street Wines and Liquors located at 22 Liberty Street was acquired by couple Jonathan and Rebecca Falcon and with this business the couple seek to distribute local and regional New York wines and products within their new space with additional expansion within the space considered later on. Since arriving, the couple have been welcomed by city residents and the surrounding business community. “Having more businesses on this street, you know, like just having more storefronts open, it just completely changes how the area feels,” said Jonathan.
Though only being there a few short months, the couple have enjoyed meeting the local residents and regulars and this Shop Small Weekend event was their store’s first time involvement in a larger community-based event. The couple are looking to further expansion and redevelopment of the space to allow more customers to interact with their products and plan to host more wine tastings in the future as they go forward.
For the past three years, Blanca Sotelo has operated Blanca Tailoring at 103 Liberty Street. “I’ve been doing this for 17 years. This is the third year I do on my own,” Sotelo said. Sotelo opened the business in late 2019 and several months later, continued to operate in the midst of the COVID outbreak.
During the outbreak period, Sotelo would make face masks for people to purchase and shared that many were grateful to her for her work. With the restrictions lifted, it’s back to business as usual and the Shop Small highlight helps local and visiting customers learn more about the business and her overall work. “It’s really good to do these kind of events, because a lot of people don’t know we’re here,” Sotelo said.
As the day continued and wherever blue and white balloons were seen, residents were able to shop small and enjoy the businesses that the city had to offer.
Paul-Gaito shared that for next year’s weekend, she encouraged more community members to come out and volunteer as the Shop Small event is all volunteer driven and looks to the hopeful creation of a city business directory that would help spread the word about the business in Newburgh. “Keep supporting us as much as you can,” said Paul-Gaito.