By CLOEY CALLAHAN
This year Small Business Saturday looked quite different than in years past due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, Newburgh’s businesses were able to get creative and encourage residents to come out and shop local in a safe manner.
The annual event is an effort to support local businesses and shop in your area instead of from large corporations online. Amal Ishak, owner of Cream Newburgh, a one-stop-shop clothing boutique, described past Small Business Saturdays as “a party for us” with a DJ, cocktails and the kickoff of the holiday season.
Ishak knew something had to be done to rethink this year’s event. She partnered with the owner of Oliver Chatfield, Susan Knapik, and owner of Field Trip, Christina Silvestris. With Small Business Saturday, there are usually special deals, promotions and offerings. One initiative the three business owners suggested is extending the one day to an entire weekend in an effort to mitigate crowds and ensure safety and maximum capacity requirements.
In doing so, they were able to partner with 22 other businesses and distributed a cheat-sheet for the small business weekend including what days each store is participating, the times they are open and what promotion they are having. Participating businesses stretch from clothing stores to the food industry.
“We were very confused about what to do,” said Ishak. “We didn’t even know if we were going to be open. We started talking and it went from being three businesses in a group chat to exploding to all of those other businesses and including the Town of Newburgh as well.”
All COVID-19 protocols were followed throughout the weekend with mask wearing, social distancing and enforcing maximum capacity limits.
“Now more than ever, we must support our local businesses as they continue to navigate through the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Neuhaus said. “If you cannot shop in person, you can still purchase goods from these merchants online and on their social media pages. The men and women who run these businesses are our friends and neighbors and are the backbone of Orange County’s economy. Let’s all make a concerted effort to support our local businesses, especially during this holiday season, and help them weather this storm.”
Looking at Orange County as a whole, there are 9,000 small businesses and for every $100 spent locally, $73 stays in the economy.
Support for local businesses is hoped to be extended throughout the entirety of the holiday season and not just on the weekend after Thanksgiving.
“When you shop locally, you are boosting the economy and strengthening the fabric of the community,” Neuhaus said. “I encourage residents to support our neighborhood shops and restaurants, not just on Small Business Saturday, but throughout the entire year.”
“Tis the Season to Shop Local,” Amanda Dana, Tourism Director of Orange County, added. “There are so many great shops in Orange County to grab the perfect gift for that special someone. Make the day a safe shopping adventure in one of our beautiful downtowns.”
With local businesses struggling, many are hoping to find a boost in sales, as they usually do during this time of year.
“All of us are trying our best,” said Ishak. “A lot of businesses are offering free local deliveries or order online and pick up in store. We’re doing the best we can for all of us to survive … I don’t think anyone wants to see another empty storefront.”