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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


Small Business Saturday makes biz go boom in Berlin

(Dec. 3, 2015) The first Small Business Saturday took place on Nov. 27, 2010 as part of a promotion created by the not-so-small enterprise American Express.
According to several shop owners in downtown Berlin, this year’s iteration last week was not only the biggest money-making Small Business Saturday, but also might have been the single-biggest shopping day of the entire year.
At Victorian Charm, on 100 North Main Street, owner Debbie Frene said there was no room to move around inside her store on Saturday.
“I don’t think we could have done any better than we did,” she said. “I think we beat last year’s figures. It was packed – I don’t know if we could have had any more people in here at one time.”
The shop has been running a series of “open houses” each week, offering discounts and giveaways for a specific item or a featured brand.
On Small Business Saturday, Victorian Charm ran a jewelry open house. This weekend, the shop will run an open house featuring Vera Bradley giveaways and discounts, followed by Brighton specials during the following weekend.
“We do it every year, and it just gives you something to talk about and advertise,” Frene said.
Shelly Bruder, of Bruder Hill at 25 Commerce Street, said this year’s Small Business Saturday was easily the biggest ever, and possibly her single best sales day in 13 years.
“It was busier than the day before during the tree lighting, and that’s always been our best day,” she said. “It was definitely our best two days of the year.”
Bruder suggested Berlin’s “Coolest Small Town” designation was still paying dividends for local stores, and said the culmination of the additional push from the town and the chamber of commerce – along with increased inventory in her store – helped push sales numbers to new heights.
“Everybody pitched together as usual and it all worked out really well,” she said.
Bruder Hill will be open until 8 p.m. on Friday nights through the holiday season, and will operate specially discounted “pop-up” shops at The Globe, on 12 Broad Street, on Tuesdays.
Dee Gilbert, owner of NEST on 11 South Main Street, agreed Saturday sales were stronger than Friday during the townwide tree lighting and Holiday Arts Night events.
“People were shopping specifically because it was Small Business Saturday, which was wonderful,” she said, adding that the annual promotion had been picking up steam each year since its inception.
Gilbert said she would discount sales 10 percent for anyone who brought in an unopened pack of socks through the holiday season.
“I read that the most-needed item at shelters is socks – and nobody wants old socks,” she said.
The socks will be donated to local nonprofit Diakonia.
For newer stores in Berlin, it was a first taste of what Small Business Saturday could add to an already-busy shopping season.
Jon Conley, owner of Uncle Jon’s Soap on 12 Williams Street, opened his store earlier this year.
“We did very well,” he said. “You can always hope to do better, but I didn’t have anything to gauge by. I hear everybody around town had great days Friday and Saturday, and I think my expectations were pretty well met.”
Conley ran a 10-percent off special during the weekend, and said he plans to run a free shipping promotion for orders over $25, through Dec. 19.
Lyndsay Mason, from Baked Dessert Café on 4 Bay Street, also noticed traffic was stronger than usual.
“We had lots of groups of people coming in and it seemed like there were a lot of people out shopping, which is always a good thing,” she said.
Currently, Baked is offering 10 percent off on all wines. Mason said she expected additional promotions before the end of the year.
Berlin Coffee House, tucked away on 17 Jefferson Street, also reported stronger than usual sales, although Jason Hagy said it was difficult to tell if that was because of Small Business Saturday, or whether the boost was because of a promotion run at neighboring Jeffery Auxer Designs.
Auxer offers make-your-own ornament classes on Saturdays in December.
“He had over 100 people, so they were stacking up and they filled our place up for the whole day,” Hagy said. “We were definitely slammed all day long. I saw the town itself was packed, but it’s tough for us to judge [why].”
Hagy added that the shop was offering $2 ice cream scoops “until they’re gone,” and said the new Maryland with Pride pop-up shop was doing well inside Berlin Coffee House.