By Terry Rogers
The holiday shopping season officially begins the day after Thanksgiving as many people head to malls and department stores on Black Friday. In 2010, American Express, in an effort to promote small businesses during the holiday season, created Small Business Saturday. This event is held on the Saturday after Thanksgiving in order to bring more holiday shopping to small businesses. It has been a huge success and Small Business Saturday has grown significantly over the years.
In celebration of Small Business Saturday, Downtown Milford will be alive with events and shoppers are encouraged to spend the day strolling through downtown, visiting merchants and restaurants in order to promote small businesses in the area. “We will be closed Thanksgiving Day, but will reopen for Black Friday and Small Business Saturday,” said Madula Kalesis, owner of Westside Restaurant. “On Saturday, we will offer our variety of pancakes, including pumpkin which is new for the season. Or you can have coconut, chocolate chip or other flavors. Supporting local restaurants benefits the town. It is how we are able to support the community as well.”
Irish Rose, a unique Irish and Celtic Gift Boutique, will be offering a 25 percent sale on Belleek Porcelain and Waterford Crystal during Small Business Saturday. Although the shop that features Irish wares will have regular hours on Thanksgiving weekend, they will open on Sunday through the month of December, starting December 3 and running through Christmas Eve. Shoppers can visit the shop from 11 AM until 3 PM.
“Shopping on Small Business Saturday is important,” Eugenia Sparks, owner of Irish Rose, said. “Customers receive personal sales service and are able to purchase specialty items not available at larger retailers. They also can stroll the Riverwalk and enjoy what Milford has to offer.”
Mispillion Art League will also be open on Small Business Saturday, offering a wide range of unique, handmade artwork. “You can select fine art and fine craft pieces with a wide range of prices suiting every budget,” Mimi Galligan, President of the Mispillion Art League, said. “Our Holiday Show will be on exhibit with paintings, photographs, weaving, stained glass, and jewelry. Browse the freshly restocked gift shop for smaller pieces, original paintings, high-quality reproductions, cards, jewelry, ceramic angels, books and much more.”
The Milford Museum also has a selection of gift items available in their gift shop. This year, the Museum is offering the first in a series of Milford Christmas ornaments. The ornament depicts an engraving of the Museum building along with the words “Saving Our Past for the Future.” The ornaments are $20 and can be purchased at the Museum. Friends of the Museum, those who have paid membership fees to support the organization, also receive a 10 percent discount.
Gallery 37: A Destination For Artful Living will be offering 15 percent off Hardware by Renee items in their gallery on South Walnut Street. This includes handmade bags and purses created from repurposed tires and marine vinyl. The gallery will also offer 15 percent off Boss/Brown whimsical, creative, humorous and clever repurposed clocks in the shape of animals and robots. “Black Friday and Shop Small Saturday provide an opportunity for those who might not ever come in during the week or any other time to visit but might with a friend because they are curious,” Marcia Reed, owner of Gallery 37, said. “The more the downtown area commits to improve its structures, beautification and make it look vital, the more people will come. This includes business owners. How do you keep your business alive? Shoppers. It takes shoppers. It is a commitment on both the local business and the community. I have seen a slight increase in business each year on Small Business Saturday since I have been open. It will be five years December 8. It’s important we don’t let local businesses with brick and mortar buildings become a thing of the past. Keep the downtown alive. People need to be reminded to put their money where their house is so the local downtown can thrive.” Ms. Reed will also begin opening on Sunday during the month of December from 12 Noon until 4 PM.
In addition to specials offered by downtown merchants, Santa arrives on Saturday, November 25 at 11 AM. Santa and Mrs. Claus will arrive at the Santa House downtown on a blazing red fire truck from the Carlisle Fire Company with sirens and escorted by Milford Police. Santa will receive each child and listen to their holiday dreams and wishes every Friday evening 5 to 7:30pm and on Saturdays and Sundays from 11am to 3pm until December 23.
Downtown Milford, Inc. (DMI) will have a table set up next to the Santa House where shoppers can pick up small tote bags with a list of the various downtown shops. DMI will also be introducing the new Downtown Milford Gift Certificate. Shoppers will have the opportunity to pop a balloon for $1 for a chance to win a $25, $50, $75 and $100 gift card that can be used to shop or dine at over 15 local Milford businesses. The list of businesses accepting the cards is growing daily. Gift cards can also be purchased at the DMI office at 207 South Walnut Street. DMI is also hosting free gift wrapping for purchases made on Small Business Saturday at The Music School of Delaware. Proof of purchase will be required.
Small Business Saturday will end with the 2nd Annual Tree Lighting in front of Milford City Hall between 5 and 5:30 PM. Residents and visitors are invited to the event where Milford Central Academy Chorus will lead a community holiday sing-a-long, as the City prepares to turn on the holiday lights in Downtown Milford, starting with the two holly trees in front of City Hall. “We encourage residents and visitors to join with friends and neighbors for the tree lighting after enjoying a day of shopping local,” stated Mayor Bryan Shupe.
Mayor Shupe notes this is a season to be thankful and to think about others. So, he encourages those who attend the tree lighting event to bring a non-perishable food item to benefit the Food Bank of Delaware. “We know there are Milfordians who are challenged to make ends meet during colder months. I hope everyone will help those who might otherwise be hungry this holiday season, by bringing a can or box of food to the tree lighting event,” urged Mayor Shupe.
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