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Portsmouth shops bustling during Small Business Saturday

Time:2016-11-28 18:18Shoes websites Click:

during business small Shops Portsmouth

By Suzanne Laurent news@seacoastonline.com

PORTSMOUTH – Shopkeepers and customers were in a jovial mood Saturday as the downtown sidewalks were crowded with holiday shoppers.

About three dozen merchants, including some pop-up shops, took part in the inaugural “Tote Around Town” event inspired by the Small Business Saturday movement.

Robyn Miller, owner of Juliette Lovelys on Bow Street, was one of the Tote Around Town participants. On the lower level of her space, Sabrina Hosse, owner of Brie’s Boutique on Sagamore Avenue, held a pop-up shop. Both businesses were offering 20 percent discounts during the day.

“It seems people want to support local businesses,” Hosse said. “The months leading up to the election saw a lot of businesses not making their usual quotas. People were afraid, I think, of spending money.”

Miller agreed, and said the Tote Around Town idea was a “huge collaboration on everyone’s part to bring shoppers back into the community.”

Tote Around Town was the brainchild of Tanya Hart, owner of Oomph Salon on Court Street, who had a vision of stimulating the local Portsmouth economy during Small Business Saturday.

Miller and Hosse met at one of the planning meetings in October and decided to collaborate at the Bow Street location.

Participating businesses included boutique fitness studios, hair salons, flower shops, clothing shops, shoe stores and more.

Beginning at 10 a.m., shoppers could pick up a tote bag designed by Rocket Fuel Only Screen Printing Co. at one of five locations. By spending at least $20 at a participating shop, customers received a button.

A Tote Around Town party was held at Seacoast Repertory Theater from 2 to 5 p.m. For each button, a raffle ticket was earned to win a prize worth more than $25 from each business. During the day, participating shops offered tasty treats and special deals. Discover Portsmouth also offered refreshments.

Shopper Tim Shank, who works in town as a freelance marketing content writer, said it was important to support the local retailers.

“They are the biggest risk takers,” he said. “Since the last decade, their whole brand is themselves.”

Things were hopping at Attrezzi on Market Street. Owner Cory Arangio said business is “tremendous, now that the Gas Light reopened.” It was not a participant in Tote Around Town, but offered discounts through its mailing list and Facebook.

The Gas Light Co. restaurant was heavily damaged by fire a year ago and reopened last week. Attrezzi is adjacent to the restaurant and suffered smoke damage. The entire store, which sells gift items, novelties and kitchen items was restocked, Arangio said.

“We’ve expanded on our kitchen tools and carry Viking and Cuisinart, now,” she said. “We were able to put up more walls to hold items.”

A group of five women originally from Portsmouth were shopping in the store.

“We do this every year,” said Emily Annis, who now lives in Providence, Rhode Island. She was with her cousin Erin Norris and their mothers and an aunt.

“It’s an all-day event,” Annis said. “We enjoy supporting the small businesses.”

Bob Breneman, co-owner of G. Willikers! Toy Shop in Market Square was busy wrapping gifts for customers in the packed store. The shop, which opened in 1978, was offering 20 percent off items made in New Hampshire.

“We just found a new construction toy, called Swivel-Snaps, made in Hollis,” Breneman said. “It’s great giving back to our own community.”

When asked about the week of free parking from Dec. 18-24, Breneman said he wished the free parking were for a longer period. The time is down two days from nine last year, and previously there were three weeks of free parking.

“I talked with (Councilor) Eric Spear about it,” Breneman said. “Some money is going back to the chamber, but the downtown businesses contribute a significant tax revenue.”

Miller of Juliette Lovelys said more free parking would be “great for the businesses, restaurants and customers.”

At Attrezzi, Arangio said the city needs to do more about “parking for the locals.”

Cindy Cook of Newton was shopping in G. Willikers! Originally from Portsmouth, Cook said it was a tradition to shop the Saturday after Thanksgiving that started when her son was young. He was there with Cook’s daughter and granddaughter.

“We support small businesses big time,” Cook said. 

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