LEWISTON — In her EllieAnna Purse Co. shop, Sarah Legare saw an increase of foot traffic and sales as customers turned out to support Small Business Saturday last year.

“It’s been really busy today,” Legare said. “People supported us with their money.”

On the day after Black Friday 2012, it was the third annual Small Business Saturday, which promotes small, local businesses during the Christmas shopping season.

Nationally, the day is beginning to catch on with consumers, as is a buy-local and buy-American trend, said University of Maine economics professor Jim McConnon.

Legare promoted the day on her Facebook page and customers responded, filling her 866 Main St. Lewiston store.

“The day gets people thinking about shopping small,” Legare said. “People are paying more attention to the fact it is sometimes the smaller businesses that keep our economy growing.”

In the Auburn Lamey Wellehan shoe store during last year’s Small Business Saturday, Jean Gallant’s granddaughter, Alyssa, 5, tried on new snow boots. Gallant was at Lamey Wellehan because of a sale. “We like to spend local whenever possible,” she said.

Barbara Perkins of Leeds was shopping there, too. “We were looking for work boots for my husband, American-made, and we found them.” Perkins said she prefers to shop locally, supporting American workers and businesses “that are our neighbors.” She appreciates that Lamey Wellehan is a leader in environmental efforts.

At the Lewiston Public Library last year, the third floor held its first “Crafts in the Stacks” show on Small Business Saturday to promote local artists and evolving small businesses. Some 25 vendors displayed goods, from pottery to gourmet chocolates.

The show was organized by Tracey Miller and Sheri Withers, both of Lewiston. Miller has created Second Story Soapworks, which sells her handmade soaps.

At Miller’s stand, lip balms, shaving soaps and bar soaps were lined up on a rack. Soap scents included orange clove, pink grapefruit, lavender and Maine coast, one of her most popular. “I love it. I’m always thinking about a new scent combination,” Miller said.

She sells her soaps online, at the Forage Market and EllieAnna Purse Company.

Since last year’s Small Business Saturday, Withers has opened Downtown Handmade and Vintage on the second floor of 180 Lisbon St., above Forage Market. She makes and sells children’s clothing, scarves, vintage shirts and aprons.

The two women want to spur more business for local craftspeople, and hope to hold shows two to three times a year.

“Today, it’s been really good. It was really busy this morning,” Withers said last year. “I’m excited about the quality of vendors.”

Marsha Baxter of Lewiston was shopping with her daughter, Kate Damon.

“I’m impressed with all of the artisans here,” Baxter said as she admired Mary Gagnon’s whimsical terrariums made with clay fairies, beach stones and vintage teacups. “This is a first-time event held at the library. It’s wonderful to have this in this space.”

Nearby, Stanley Hollenbeck was selling wooden spoons and utensils that looked like artwork at his Maggie’s Farm stand.

John Henderson displayed artwork and note cards depicting local, historic buildings and churches, part of his Hometown History Works business.

Henderson said he appreciated Saturday’s show as a balance to Black Friday. He said he prefers gifts made by people “putting their heart and soul into something creative. It’s authentic,” he said. People getting stomped or pushed in lines “is not what it’s all about.”

Withers reported that this year’s event will be “Crafts& Crafts” from 4-8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 5, at Baxter Brewing in Lewiston. Local crafters, beers, music and food by Forage will be part of the event.

Also, the weekend of Thanksgiving, many downtown Lisbon St. businesses will participate in hosting open houses, including an artwalk with local crafters on Friday, Dec. 6. Saturday, Dec. 7, will be Small Business Day with more open houses. “We might have hayrides or cider at various shops along the way,” Withers noted.

Rita Myrick, left, of Sabattus shops at Ventricles Apart Crafts, an art studio owned by Herenya Wilkey, right, of Sabattus during the Crafts in the Stacks event at the Lewiston Public Library during last year’s Small Business Saturday. Twenty-five local artists set up shop during the event that was organized by Neighborhood Handmade. This year’s event will be held at Baxter Brewing, according to Sheri Withers.


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