BY KIRSTYN BRENDLEN
Holiday sales didn’t stop on
Black Friday for Brooklynites
this year as they turned out
in force to support their entrepreneurial
Small Business Saturday.
Started by American Express
in 2010 as a counter to
Black Friday and Cyber Monday
which tended to focus on
major chains and big-ticket
items, Small Business Saturday
encourages people across
the country to see what’s for
sale in their own neighborhoods
on the Saturday after
“One thing defi nitely
that has changed over the
years is it’s really gotten a lot
more notoriety,” said Randy
Peers, president of the Brooklyn
Chamber of Commerce.
“There’s a lot of local promotion
of Small Business Saturday
by local merchants and
groups. From the chamber of
commerce’s perspective, it’s
great to see that kind of localized
energy being put behind
Picking up gifts
Peers spent his Saturday
stopping in at events all over
the borough — attending the
ribbon-cutting for the Bed Stuy
Gateway BID’s Winter Wonderland,
COURIER L 12 IFE, DECEMBER 3-9, 2021
shopping on Tompkins and
Knickerbocker avenues, stopping
in at an event hosted by the
Rockaway Parkway Merchants
Association, and wrapping up
at the Park Slope Fifth Avenue
BID’s annual Small Business
Saturday tree lighting.
“What I observed was just
really a lot of excitement, a
lot of great energy,” he said.
“I think some of it is people
have waited a year to be able
to come out again.”
Whether the increased
popularity of Small Business
Saturday and the enthusiasm
of the shopping crowds
last weekend will translate to
an uptick in revenue is yet to
be seen, Peers said, but so far
the holiday season is shaping
up to be much better for local
shop owners than last year’s.
Omicron, the newest variant
of the coronavirus, could
throw a wrench in that — but
so far, business owners aren’t
letting it get to them, said Paul
Samulski, president of the
North Brooklyn Chamber.
“The common reaction
within the business world seems
to be ‘Enough already. Isn’t this
thing ever going away?’ followed
by ‘I guess we’ll just have
to keep doing what we’re doing
and remain vigilant with regard
to our protocols,’” he said.
Adapting to the times
While the threat of another
round of restrictions is daunting,
not everything infl uenced
by the pandemic was negative.
So far, Peers has seen an uptick
in pop-up shopping events,
he said, outdoor collections
of individual retailers selling
their wares — both the Bed-
Stuy Winter Wonderland and
the Rockaway Parkway events
were pop-ups. The temporary
shops gained popularity during
the pandemic, he said, in
part because the outdoor stalls
were a safer way to shop and
sell for those concerned about
The Bed-Stuy Winter Wonderland opened for business on Small Biz Saturday.
Photo courtesy of Randy Peers
returning to physical stores.
They also draw people to the
neighborhoods they’re based
in, he said, creating a little
showcase of the retail corridor’s
The pop-ups also often have
an online presence, he said, so
shoppers can browse through
sellers and make purchases
even if they’re not ready to buy
when they come upon the pop
up, or note the stores they’d
like to return to later.
The pandemic also pushed
many business owners into
establishing or expanding
their online presence to make
up for the lack of in-person
sales last year, Peers said.
The Brooklyn Chamber of
Commerce offered free services
for those looking to
make the jump and keep their
businesses afl oat.
“It wasn’t a luxury any
more, it was a lifeline,” he said.
Expanding e-commerce and
fi nding new ways to sell at popup
events may give business
owners more opportunity to
grow their customer base and
make sales, but they’re also, at
the end of the day, a result of
the struggles of lockdowns and
long months of low revenue.
“We lost small businesses,
anywhere, depending on the
commercial corridor, from 20
percent to maybe a third of
small businesses have closed
permanently,” Peers said.
Small Business Saturday
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