Joseph F. Berenato
Shoppers support small businesses
Businesses around town had busy day
HAMMONTON—On November 27, the town of Hammonton was abuzz with activity as businesses welcomed customers with sales and incentives of all kinds on Small Business Saturday, held each year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
At Rejuvenation Day Spa, owner Jana Gallagher Sliwecki said that all retail products had a 15 percent discount. Additionally, the spa was offering their annual gift certificate sale; all gift certificates with a $50 minimum were buy six, get one free.
Customer Kristie Privitera visited Rejuvenation Day Spa to avail herself of the sales that day.
“I came to get a gift certificate for my daughter for Christmas,” Privitera said.
Gallagher Sliwecki said that Small Business Saturday is a “fabulous opportunity to focus on the community support of each other’s small businesses.”
“We all depend on each other, and we all know that very much so—especially over the past couple of years with the pandemic. We had closed for three and a half months, so it was very rewarding to see how we’ve been busy. Today, people are coming in, buying gift certificates, spending money and we’re busy with appointments. It’s great—great for business, great for the community and excellent experience,” Gallagher Sliwecki said.
Right near Rejuvenation Day Spa is The Golden Feather, where customers enjoyed a 25 percent discount on all items storewide.
Co-owner Lori Bertino noted that supply chain issues have caused a bit of a delay in their holiday items, but they have started to arrive.
“We’re still receiving Christmas inventory—today and moving forward—so we should have a good supply throughout, up until Christmas. We offer free gift wrap, and hope everyone comes in and takes advantage of our beautiful store,” Bertino said.
Bertino’s sister, Lisa Raso, said that it was exciting to see local people visit The Golden Feather.
“After the height of the pandemic, it’s nice to see people out shopping again,” Raso said.
Marie Paggi was one such customer; she visited The Golden Feather on Small Business Saturday with her granddaughters, Emilia and Laura Castonguay.
“I get emails from them, and I got the email that it was Small Business Saturday. I’m trying to do my part,” Paggi said.
Emilia Castonguay was excited for the day.
“We’re shopping for Christmas presents,” she said.
Laura Castonguay agreed.
“I got one for my dog. I’m making her a chew toy,” she said.
Stores throughout the uptown were experiencing an increase in customer activity on Small Business Saturday.
At Brand Jewelers, which was running several discounts—including their silver line and wedding bands—owner Anthony Brandolini said that there was definitely “an uptick.”
“You can tell this morning is busy,” Brandolini said.
Brandolini noted that Small Business Saturday is important to bring customers in, but it should be the start, not the end, of a longer event.
“It’s a nice thought to get people to build on ... Every Saturday should be Small Business Saturday. It’s very important to the community,” Brandolini said.
At Infinity Salon & Boutique, located in the Peachtree Plaza across the White Horse Pike, customers were met with a 20 percent discount on all retail products. Employee Lexie Rubba said that the salon had been busy.
“That’s always a good sign. I think we’re coming back to reality, finally. Always support your locals; we need all the business we can get,” Rubba said.
Kelly Bermudez patronized Infinity Salon & Boutique to offer her support.
“Stephanie Sceia is my hairstylist, and she does really great work. I’ve been with her for a few years now, so I just wanted to keep it local and share my business with this small local business,” Bermudez said.
Local support is what brought customer Heather Tyndale and her daughter, Brooke, to Showcase Sports.
“My daughter needed a new bat for softball,” she said.
Showcase Sports’ Nicole Silipino Porretta said that there were many discounts being offered to customers.
“Our deals we’re having today is 10 to 80 percent off; we have a full rack of 80 percent off items. Most of our clothing is 50 percent off. We have a sale on gift cards; if you spend $100, you get $20,” Silipino Porretta said.
Silipino Porretta said that everyone at the store loves Small Business Saturday.
“It’s definitely a good thing for all the small businesses. I think a lot of people really enjoy doing Small Business Saturday, going out to all the different small businesses,” Silipino Porretta said.
Chris Giardino of The Health Tree—located in Blueberry Crossing—concurred with Silipino Porretta.
“It’s very important. I won’t shop online. I go to the stores that are as close to me as possible to support them—because I know how hard it is to keep it going,” Giardino said.
Giardino said that The Health Tree was celebrating Small Business Saturday by offering 15 percent off their Christmas products when customers spent $30 or more.
Customer Renee Coleman visited the Blueberry Crossing store on November 27 to restock on vitamins.
“I’m from out of town, and I come here to get the majority of my supplements. Today is Small Business Saturday; what better day to support the Hammonton businesses?” Coleman said.
At Buy Rite Wine & Liquor, also in Blueberry Crossing, manager Adam Callahan agreed that supporting local businesses is “very important, especially in a community like this.”
“We’re happy to be a part of the area here, my colleagues and I. I’m a small business guy, so whatever we can do to help the customers in the area, we’re all about,” Callahan said.
Callahan said that Buy Rite Wine & Liquors had several gift ideas for the holidays.
“We’re doing a lot of 750 mL wines that are on sale all the way through to New Year’s Eve, with gift sets and different things of that nature. Some of our sparkling wines—Proseccos, champagnes and that sort of thing—we’re able to get into the New Year with really good deals,” Callahan said.
The uptown district represented only a portion of the activity on Small Business Saturday. Shoppers enjoyed music playing over the PA system as they walked up and down the streets throughout the downtown.
On Central Avenue, The Hair Lounge was offering a 20 percent discount on all gift cards through Cyber Monday. Owner Marla Haines noted the importance of Small Business Saturday.
“It’s very, very beneficial for the small businesses, because we’re still trying to get through the pandemic,” Haines said.
Customer Lindsay Simone visited The Hair Lounge to show her support.
“I grew up with Marla, so I have to support her forever,” Simone said.
Right near The Hair Lounge is JH Antique Mall, where Bernie Pezzuto said that discounts ranged from 10 to 90 percent throughout the store.
“We’re hoping for a good turnout and lots of sales today, so I can fill up other empty spots. I think it’s always good to honor the local people and shop in their businesses to keep everybody thriving, working and open,” Pezzuto said.
Amber Carbone, who lives near JH Antique Mall, patronized the establishment on Small Business Saturday in search of décor for her home.
“I’m redesigning some of the areas, and I love shopping small and local,” Carbone said.
Shopping small and local is vital to a community’s health, according to Darlene Blackwell, the owner of Ohana Juice Bar and Eats.
“You want all your customers to support your local businesses. You’ve got your big box stores, but the local businesses are dealing with the community. A lot of my customers I know by name ... and I know their order. It’s a relationship that you’re dealing with when you shop with local businesses; that’s why it’s important to support it and communicate with your local customers, and get to know them, and they get to like your product. I think that’s very important; relationship is the key,” Blackwell said.
Blackwell said that Ohana was offering their seasonal drink—a chocolate cherry cordial—to help customers maintain stamina on Small Business Saturday.
“We also make custom drinks, so if a customer comes in and says they want something more seasonal we’ll make recommendations. Everything has less sugar and is healthy, and gives you the energy to go out there and shop ‘til you drop,” Blackwell said.
Around the corner from Ohana Juice Bar and Eats, on Bellevue Avenue, is Mannino’s Cannoli Express.
There, customers received a raffle ticket for every $5 spent, as well as a free mini cannoli with every purchase. Additionally, those who placed their holiday orders on Small Business Saturday received 10 percent off their order.
“It’s important for the support of all of our customers, and it helps new customers to make their way downtown and visit Mannino’s,” said owner Gabriella Mannino Tomasello.
Among the customers on Small Business Saturday were the Michael family—Marcella and Robert, and their son, Marcello—from Albany, N.Y.
“We’re here for a soccer tournament for our son until tomorrow. We come here every year when we come to this tournament,” Marcella Michael said.
Customer loyalty brought Alesia Schute to Tales of the Olive on Small Business Saturday.
“I ran out of sesame oil, and it is Small Business Saturday, so I figured it would be good,” Schute said.
Owner Kelly Brown said that there were several promotions that greeted customers like Schute, including a buy-three-get-one-free sale.
“We also have a lot of giveaways; for a certain amount that people spend, we’ll give something away—a tote bag with our name on it, a candle, a Christmas ornament—nice little things to say ‘thank you, Happy Holidays and thanks for supporting us,’” Brown said.
Brown said that Small Business Saturday is very important to Tales of the Olive.
“It’s a great way to get people to come out and check out my product. It’s good to build up my business, of course, and it also is a way to meet new faces, bring in some old friends and they get to try my product. I get my product out there—olive oil and balsamic vinegar—and it’s healthy for you. It’s a win/win,” Brown said.
At Casciano Coffee Bar & Sweetery—which was offering buy-four-get-one-free gift cards—owner Linda Cashan expressed similar sentiments.
“Small Business Saturday is probably our best day of the year in terms of really connecting with our customers and feeling grateful for them. I think they feel grateful for us for staying in business as a small business. They really come out to support us, and we have a wonderful day—especially after 14 years,” Cashan said.
Customer Ryan Whalan said that he supports Casciano Coffee Bar & Sweetery daily; on Small Business Saturday, he ordered three coffees and breakfast.
“I’m going to take a walk around and take advantage of the deals that everyone has here. I’d rather spend my money on this street than at a big box store. It’s amazing that all these stores have remained here and stayed in business through the past two years. It’s tough. They don’t have the capital and the amount of money that all these other places have,” Whalen said.
Right next to Casciano Coffee Bar & Sweetery is Perhaps, where co-owner Ana Yanoschak said that there was a 15 percent discount throughout the entire store, along with a 40-percent-off rack as well.
Yanoschak said that supporting small businesses is “key to keeping the community going.”
Customer Grace Tomasello said that was her motivation for visiting Perhaps on Small Business Saturday.
“I like to support our small businesses,” Tomasello said.
Yanoschak said that Tomasello was not alone.
“Business has been wonderful; there’s lots of support today,” Yanoschak said.
At SaDee’s Clothing Boutique—which was offering a 25 percent discount all weekend—owner Amanda Poalise noted a similar trend.
“It’s been very busy the past couple of days. I think it’s extremely important to support your local community. They’re having a good time coming in and finding gifts for themselves, like holiday outfits, or gifts for others. It’s been a successful weekend,” Poalise said.
Cynthia Corona made SaDee’s Clothing Boutique one of her many stops that day.
“I was shopping around in town. I’m just walking around enjoying the day,” Corona said.
Foot traffic is also vital to success at Vintage Betty’s Antiques and More, which was offering 20 percent off any non-sale item.
There, Joe Cresta said that business was good, thanks to Small Business Saturday.
“I think it’s a big help. It’s a plus for all the businesses in the area. We rely a lot on the events that they have downtown, and every event usually leads to more business,” Cresta said.
Discounts were also the order of the day at Just in Time Events, where everything was discounted 15 percent, and all purchases above $50 included a free candle.
Employee Juliana Zambetti said that supporting small businesses are part of the company’s mission statement.
“In this store, we only use small businesses. All of our candles are from a small business, all of our body products are from a small business and all of our baby stuff is from a small business.
We are a small business selling small business stuff. We are all about that; we love it,” Zambetti said.
Zambetti said that she was eager to take advantage of the sales throughout town.
“I can’t wait to walk down the strip and see what else we’ve got. Small Business Saturday is great; a lot of people are coming down the street,” Zambetti said.
At Antique Marketplace of Downtown Hammonton, vendor Lora Bearden also took note of the roving shoppers.
“There’s a lot of people out, I’m sure, all over, so they’re making their rounds,” Bearden said.
Bearden said that discounts varied throughout the store.
“A lot of the vendors are running anywhere from a 10 to a 50 percent off sale throughout the weekend, and we have refreshments. We’re also promoting our free photos with Santa on December 12 from noon to 2 p.m.,” Bearden said.
Philip Butler, another vendor, said that business was heavy on Black Friday and was also picking up steam on Small Business Saturday, which is extremely important in the era of the pandemic.
“We got hurt, small businesses. Now, we’re starting to rebound a little, and these are the kinds of days we need. I think it’s very important. A lot of people support small business and come out in droves; it’s great to see the community pull together,” Butler said.
Among the community members were Mike Vettraino and Holly Forbes.
“We come here pretty often. Sometimes, on Saturdays, we go for a walk outside, but it’s colder today so we came to look around and browse and look at the wall art, specifically, because we are in the market for wall art. There’s a lot of interesting things here. We always see kitschy, quirky items that you don’t see everywhere,” Forbes said.
Brett Duncan also visited Antique Marketplace of Downtown Hammonton with his children, Ian and Allison.
“We came to look for some Christmas gifts for the family,” he said.
Gift-buying brought Kimberly Zuccarello to David Charles, Ltd., which was offering a 25 percent discount on all watches for Small Business Saturday.
“I came to buy my mom a Christmas gift she’s been looking at for weeks; I’m going to give it to her early,” Zuccarello said.
Manager ToniAnne Perry said that Small Business Saturday is “very important, especially for our community.”
“We need to support each other,” Perry said.
At Graycewyngs Gardens & Interiors, located on Pleasant Street just two blocks away from Bellevue Avenue, owner Jennifer-Jones Rodriguez expressed similar thoughts.
“It’s based on community. It’s getting the love and support from your community into your individual space, store, shop or wherever you are. It’s important before the holidays because it brings a sense of love—which we all have been kind of lacking due to COVID—and we need to come back together. It’s doing that. It’s bringing people out, and they’re enjoying themselves,” Jones-Rodriguez said.
Among the events at Graycewyngs Gardens & Interiors on Small Business Saturday was a visit from Santa Claus.
“He did photo shoots with the kids. They rolled out cookie dough; it was adorable. We’ve been nonstop ever since,” Jones-Rodriguez said.
Jones-Rodriguez said that Graycewyngs Gardens & Interiors had been busy both Friday and Saturday and was running a number of promotions.
“It’s a wonderful thing. We have anything left over from Free Friday—which was yesterday—with a ‘Free Friday’ tag walks out for free. If you see one, it’s yours to take home. Some of the vendors are running specials in their individual rooms. We have complimentary cider and goodies,” Jones-Rodriguez said.
Donna and Vince Messina visited Graycewyngs Gardens & Interiors on Small Business Saturday.
“There’s a unique supply of gifts and furnishings, and Jen is wonderful. She’s so special; she goes out of her way. I’ve been here for teas, and she goes out of her way to please you and make you happy. Whatever you want, she can’t do enough for you. You should try to support small businesses,” Donna Messina said.
Customer Patty Maimone agreed.
“I came out to Graycewyngs because I love it here. It’s a beautiful shop. Jennifer and her family do a wonderful job, and it’s just enjoyable to come and see all these beautiful things,” Maimone said.
Ann Lewellen was more succinct.
“I came out to buy something, and this is the place to come,” Lewellen said.
For more photos, read the December 1, 2021 Print Edition/Digital Edition.