By Janee Law and Carl Corry
For the sixth straight year, the Huntington Holiday Parade and Tree Lighting coincided with downtown shopping promotion started by American Express called Small Business Saturday. The goal: to drive holiday shoppers to local stores and restaurants.
This year, Huntington village merchants say the results were mixed.
On the positive side, Bon Bons Chocolatier at 319 Main St., co-owner Mary Alice Meinersman said she had expected the rain to put a damper on business, but traffic to the chocolatier and gift shop was “very busy,” with many new faces coming in.
Karen Durka, owner of Fetch Shop at 44C Gerard St., said the pet store, which opened in July, hosted a party at the store from 5-10 p.m., “had an amazing turnout” that produced record sales for the business. Popular items included doggie sweaters.
“I think it was great [and] it was well publicized,” said Durka of the event. “I was seeing a tremendous amount of advertising about small business Saturday [and] we were running specials of course like everybody else, so we were very pleased with the turnout.”
Having the opposite experience with her business was Laurie Burlison, owner of Lot 356 Fashion Boutique at 356 New York Ave, which opened in March.
“For Black Friday, we had a much better turnout, but Saturday, there wasn’t much as far as anything that went on and the town was quiet,” Burlison said.
“The town had good intentions having kids walk around and getting candy and stuff, but we didn’t see any turn out from that at all,” Burlison said, adding she thought there should be more advertising for the event next year.
Danielle Brennan, manager of boutique shop Madison’s Niche at 14 Wall St., said Saturday was busy, “maybe not as much as last year, but maybe the weather had something to do with that.”
At Sedoni Gallery, a lifestyle store at 304 New York Ave., owner Leslie Salant said sales for the Saturday after Thanksgiving were the worst they’ve been in her 23 years in business.
“Foot traffic was very off,” she said, and she didn’t blame it on the rain. Rather, she thinks event organizers could have done a better job of asking retailers for their input.
But Huntington spokesman A.J. Carter said “the town and the partners in the parade made a significant effort to engage with retailers early on in the process,” noting a Sept. 28 meeting at the Paramount at which the town demonstrated a new interactive map, communications through the Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce and personal outreach by members of the parade committee.