CT shops hope customers shop big during Small Business Saturday this weekend


Conn. (WTNH) — Small Business Saturday (SBS) kicks off in just four days. It is a push for shoppers to buy locally. For hundreds of thousands of mom-and-pop shops around the state, this Saturday is a big deal.

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Arethusa in West Hartford Center is known for its pure dairy products. Especially the egg nog.

Owner Tony Yurgaitis says the season is important. “We’re just getting over the earthquake of the pandemic.”

His Litchfield dairy farm started with five cows, now there’s a restaurant, bakery, and retail outlets. They have 100 employees and it was the Federal Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) that saved them during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yurgaitis admits he doesn’t ever want to go back to lockdown mode. “I hope we never have to use it again, but they were there with a bit of a safety net.”

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The Small Business Administration (SBA) is touting SBS.

Catherine Marx, the district director of the SBA, said the supply chain debacle isn’t as severe on Main Street. “It’s really important when you buy Connecticut-made your gifts will not be waiting on a barge at the Connecticut River.”

There are 355,596 small businesses in our state giving 739,000 people jobs.

Ed Dunn is the owner of the Toy Chest in West Hartford and said good help is still hard to find even as business sectors are open. “It’s been a little disconcerting, but I have some high school kids and some college kids who were coming back to me and that helps this time of the year so we’re in good shape.”

Customers like Meg Griffin say consumer confidence has grown and supporting locals is important.

Griffin was shopping for her grandkids Tuesday. “We live within walking distance so we like to eat here, shop here.” She said it took time to feel comfortable going back into stores.

When asked whether a little more confidence gets you in? Griffin answered, “Absolutely, yeah.”

West Hartford Mayor Shari Cantor says shop owners described visitors driving from other states to visit the shops in town. “The attraction when people coming from a half-hour away, 45 minutes away to walk and be in those spaces really with unique gifts and unique experiences.”

Local shops from Middletown to New Haven will be shining this weekend. Hoping you buy big at small shops.

Ed Dunn says at the toy store, “Birthdays are up, people are happy merchandise is here. We’re feeling very good about the season.”

Leaders say of every dollar spent 86-cents stays in the local community.

Many of the small businesses also donate to the local community and many of the charities. SBA administrators say just another good reason to shop local.

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