Small Business Saturday has quickly evolved into a holiday shopping tradition over the years, making the Saturday after Thanksgiving as significant as Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Small Business Saturday was founded by American Express in 2010 as an effort to help bring more customers to local businesses and “Shop Small.”
The event falls on Nov. 27 this year. If you are still looking for deals after Black Friday and would like to support local businesses at the same time — and if you are spending Thanksgiving in the Greater Gardner area — here are some nearby businesses that you should check out.
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The Kitchen Garden
Craving a cup of coffee and homemade pastries? Head over to The Kitchen Garden at 268 Baldwinville Road in Templeton. The country store has been operating since 1988 and is widely known for its variety of fresh baked goods — breads, pies, muffins and more.
It is no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly affected small businesses all around the world. When asked about the difference in the current shopping landscape compared to pre-pandemic, owner Joyce Henshaw Dossett said that she has not seen much of a change, except that “more people are doing their holiday shopping earlier.”
The biggest challenge that The Kitchen Garden faced when the pandemic first hit was navigating its mode of operation.
“We had to close our store for a bit and rethink the flow of the customers and also how to deal with their orders,” said Dossett.
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The store even had to adapt and improvise the sale of certain products due to supplies that are “impossible to get.”
However, Dossett said that she is very thankful for the love and support that she has received from the community over the years.
“I’m feeling the love. People are wanting to come in and shop local,” she said.
If you have been waiting to visit The Kitchen Garden, wait no further.
“Early November to Christmas is always our busiest period,” Dossett said.
Valley Florist & Greenhouse
Flower arrangements make a perfect gift and/or decoration for any occasion. If you are looking to “freshen” your holiday spirit, Valley Florist & Greenhouse is the place to visit. Located at 1 Valley Drive in Templeton, the store specializes in flower decorations for almost every occasion — from weddings to proms, even birthdays and Thanksgiving.
Although owner Brendan Loughman had just taken over the business in July, the store is now projected to be even busier during the holiday period than it currently is.
“We don’t have a reference as to how the business was prior to COVID-19, but from what I’ve seen thus far, there seems to be a lot more traffic ever since [Country Roads Christmas Tour] started on Nov. 5,” said Loughman.
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When it comes to operating a business in the midst of a pandemic, Loughman’s biggest challenge has been getting supplies needed for his store.
“Right now that seems to be a big problem for all businesses, especially in the floral industry,” he said.
Fortunately, Loughman said that he had expected a setback in terms of getting the supplies and ordered things early.
“I’m hoping everything gets here early enough, otherwise I may have to return my orders from the suppliers,” he said. “But again, we’re gambling here.”
Aside from that, Loughman said that the benefit of shopping locally during the holiday season is getting gifts in time.
“Shopping online gives customers the convenience of not having to leave the house, but one benefit of shopping locally is that customers will be able to come in (the) store, grab the gift and purchase it right away,” he said. “I’m hearing that there’s going to be a lot of delays in shipping this year.”
Smith’s Country Cheese
With charcuterie boards becoming a popular trend, the holiday season will not be complete without hors d’oeuvres. Located at 20 Otter River Road in Winchendon, Smith’s Country Cheese is the store to visit if you are looking to elevate your Thanksgiving and Christmas appetizers.
Owner Allie Catlin said that the local shopping landscape looks livelier this year since “a lot more people are coming in-person” compared to last year. In fact, customers have already been putting in orders for the holiday season.
“We make gift boxes with our cheese and other local items, and we ship them all over the country. We’ve already had people coming in for the holidays and we’ve seen an increase in people ordering charcuterie boards from our store,” she said.
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Catlin said she is happy to see that the community is “a lot more cognizant of supporting local businesses,” and more people are ordering from their online store and also visiting their farmer’s market in Worcester.
When it comes to barriers to overcome, Catlin said that price increases and the feeling of uncertainty toward the future of the dairy industry are definitely the two biggest aspects affecting her business.
However, she said, “We’re not alone in it.”
Catlin says that it is very important for the community to support local businesses. Aside from having owners who are more hands-on, supporting small businesses also directly supports local families.
“Sometimes if you need something, just take the time to go to a small business. It directly helps your community because we’re supporting people in our town. They (owners of small businesses) work here and we (local customers) pay them — it’s a beautiful relationship and customers are directly part of that,” she said.
This article originally appeared on Gardner News: Greater Gardner guide to ‘shop small’ on Small Business Saturday