Leading up to the holiday season in past years, Andover native Mike LaMagna walked up and down Newbury Street in Boston, asking anyone he knew who was on the busy downtown street to The store is owned to allow him to host a small pop-up event for his business, Long Wharf Supply Co.
However, not this year.
LaMagna will make his dream come alive Saturday when he officially opens his company’s first brick-and-mortar location at 119 Newbury St. It also falls on Small Business Saturday, which business owners and officials say is essential to the long-term survival of local stores. .
“It’s the one day of the year where everyone reflects on what they have on the line and when you have a small business, it’s your entire livelihood,” Lamagna said inside the store on Friday. “There are real people behind small businesses, so when you buy from a small business, you’re supporting someone’s heart and soul and everything they’ve put into their business.”
LaMagna’s location will operate as a pop-up store through the holiday season, and potentially longer, LaMagna said, if he can secure a long-term lease. The store is filled with the company’s original items, fishing sweaters made from cotton, wool, and recycled oyster shells and plastic water bottles.
When customers walk through the store’s doors on Saturdays from 1 to 4 p.m., they’ll find Lamagna shucking oysters for them, while his family helps run the store.
As inflation hovers around 8%, the highest level in 40 years, business officials are urging consumers to understand that local stores need support during the holiday season and throughout the year.
In an interview earlier this week, John Hurst, president of the Massachusetts Retailers Association, suggested shoppers invest their holiday spending dollars in local businesses and shop in person. Online purchases represent only 5% of all holiday sales for small businesses, Hurst said.
He said: “Every small business needs one of two things to survive: 1) high sales, and 2) low costs.” To some extent, these two goals are going in the wrong direction; Higher costs due to inflation and sales will hopefully increase, but it depends on the consumer and where they invest those dollars.
Last year, independent retailers and restaurants brought in $23.3 billion on Small Business Saturday, up 18% from $19.8 billion in 2020 and up from $19.6 billion in 2019, according to American Express 2021 Small Business Saturday according to Consumer Insights. .
In the study, 78% of independent retailers indicated that holiday sales “will enable them to stay in business in 2022.”
Business owner Cynthia First spent Friday afternoon in her store with her 4-year-old golden doodle Fika at First Rugs, wondering how many customers she would see in the coming days.
Earlier this year, the first store was opened on the first floor of a 5-story building in the Suva Art and Design District, which sources and sells carpets. The business also has locations in Acton and New York City.
“It’s one of a number of things that we hope to promote business,” First said, adding that she believes Small Business Saturday is actually “Small Business Month” through December.
For people who want to support local businesses, artists and designers, the Suva Arts District opens its Winter Festival and Holiday Market on Friday, which runs through December 11.