SBA, state and local authorities promote ‘Shop Small’ when visiting West Hartford Center – We-Ha
The Connecticut District of the SBA hosted its Saturday morning promotional launch for small businesses with a walking tour of the West Hartford Center on Tuesday morning, visiting eight local businesses.
By Ronni Newton
The Saturday after Thanksgiving – the day after Black Friday – has been known as “Small Business Saturday” for over a decade, and West Hartford Center was chosen as the launch site for this year’s campaign with a conference of press led by Connecticut Small Business Association District Manager Catherine Marx at Arethusa Farm Dairy and Café, followed by a walking tour of other local businesses along Farmington Avenue and LaSalle Road.
Emphasizing the benefits of holiday shopping locally, Marx was joined by Governor Ned Lamont, Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz, US Senator Richard Blumenthal, West Hartford Mayor Shari Cantor, State Senator Derek Slap, the State officials Jillian Gilchrest, Tammy Exum, and Kate Farrar, Chris Conway, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce, and other city and business leaders – many of whom have indeed done their bit of shopping in s ” stopping in stores and chatting with owners, managers and employees.
“We like to say that we know that small businesses are the engines of our economy, but what is more important is that they are the fabric of our community, so it is very important to come and support them during this. holiday season, ”Marx mentioned.
Some of the stores have locally made items, which are in the stores, not stuck sitting on a barge somewhere, Marx said.
Half of the state’s workforce is employed by small businesses, Bysiewicz said. Business owners are neighbors and friends, sponsors of local sports teams, contributors to school and nonprofit fundraisers. “Shopping small is so important,” Bysiewicz said. “These businesses… are the ones we love, they are the ones that have supported us during the pandemic, and there are over 350,000 small businesses in our state.”
For every dollar spent in a small business, she said, “68 cents stays in the community where that dollar is spent. “
Blumenthal said hundreds of state businesses would have perished without the billions of dollars pumped into the state by Congress and the SBA. “I want to thank these small business owners because over the past year… the courage and courage of our small businesses has been absolutely inspiring. They have persisted through the most difficult economic times in recent history, ”he said.
“Now is our turn to show them that we are going to stay with them, be with them and buy a lot of big products from small businesses,” said Blumenthal, urging consumers to keep buying small during the holiday season. . “It is an endorsement of the entrepreneurial spirit that makes America great,” a spirit that has been displayed throughout the pandemic.
Cantor said that small businesses are “the backbone of our state and make us special, and West Hartford Center is a truly wonderful place.” Business owners told him this week that shoppers regularly come in for 30 to 45 minutes for the unique gifts and experiences that can be found.
“It has truly been a team effort to pick up and support our small businesses through one of the most difficult times in our history,” said Cantor. “I really had no idea if they were going to make it, from restaurants to small retail stores… but I will say that they have been the most generous and the most generous, courageous and resilient throughout this process,” a- she said, the heart and soul of communities, collecting and distributing food to those who have lost their jobs, to healthcare workers.
“It’s up to us now to think about them and support them,” she said.
Tony Yurgaitis, owner of Arethusa, shared a bit of his business history, which began when he and his partner, the late George Malkemus (both also former senior executives of Manolo Blahnik in New York), purchased a farm in Litchfield County about 20 years ago. long ago in order to preserve the land, then decided to breed cows. One thing led to another, and they bought more cows and started bottling their own milk, and eventually expanded the business to include not only the farm, but also several dairies and restaurants. The West Hartford site opened in June 2020.
“It is quite an honor to be a part of the West Hartford community,” Yurgaitis said Tuesday. “It’s such a wonderful city, a great feeling here… I think if you come downtown you will come back.”
During the holiday season, Arethusa sells not only its usual dairy products, but also seasonal products like its award-winning eggnog. They started producing 5,000 bottles of eggnog and are now producing 45,000, he said.
When he was in college, the dormitory walls were covered with posters that said, “Think globally, act locally,” Lamont said. “But now we think globally and buy locally, and I think you find out why. “
Shopping at a place like Arethusa, Lamont said, “You know eggnog wasn’t sitting on a freighter off Long Beach… you know what you get,” he said. You don’t have to worry about the supply chain.
“There are also great people in these stores,” he said. “If you’re a pathetic shopper like me that’s a big help because every time I buy something online I thought it looked pretty cool but by the time it’s under the tree Christmas Day and the kids open it, you thought I bought them a block of coal or something, so I need some really smart people in these stores to make me look really cool by finding things that i can get it right now.
This is not the first time the governor has called himself a poor buyer and enlisted the help of an expert in West Hartford. Last December, Lamont enlisted Cantor’s help, who joined him and gave him advice while doing last-minute shopping for his wife and kids at several West Hartford Center stores.
Local stores also bring cities to life, Lamont said.
After leaving Arethusa, the walking tour included visits to Toy Chest, BK & Co., Bridgewater Chocolates, Café Sofia, Hope & Stetson, Larsen Ace Hardware, and Kimberly Boutique, where managers met with owners, managers and employees.
Bysiewicz knew exactly what she wanted from Bridgewater Chocolates and noted that the business is part of the Connecticut Chocolate Trail. She posed for a photo with her purchase to mark this spot as she aims to complete the trail.
Blumenthal also shopped in Bridgewater, as well as several other stores throughout the tour, and Cantor also purchased plenty of holiday gifts.
“I should thank you guys,” said Kimberly Mattson Moster, owner of Kimberly Boutique. “The SBA has been really good for us,” she said, helping her business weather the pandemic.
Saturday November 27, 2021 is “Small Saturday Shopping” and the community is invited to start a holiday tradition of small shopping and eating locally on this day.
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