Courtney MacMunn Schlachter arranges her one-of-a-kind ornaments on a tree in her store, Quiet City Books, on Lisbon Street in Lewiston on Friday night, in preparation for Small Business Saturday. Schlachter makes the ornaments out of damaged books and re-purposed toys. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

LEWISTON — Black Friday? 

Old news.

In and around the Twin Cities, small business owners were ramping up for what should be a brisk weekend of shopping, even for the little guy. 

At Blais Flower & Garden Center on Webster Street in Lewiston, owner Billie Jo Brito had no idea what was going on over at Walmart, Kohl’s or the other giant chains. She was too busy getting ready for the weekend and for what has been dubbed Small Business Saturday.  

At Blais, Brito and her crew were prepared to greet weekend customers in a variety of ways. 

“We’re having drop-in wreath making sessions,” Brito said. “If you want to make your own wreath rather than buy one, you can come in any time Saturday.” 

She was expecting a good turnout for that. Some customers just like picking out their own bows and other bling to fashion into personalized wreaths.

A day later, a special guest is expected at the flower shop to help greet customers and their kids. 

“Sunday we have cookies and cocoa with Santa,” Brito said. “And this year we’ve expanded our poinsettia arrangements. It’s not just pink, white and red. We have Monet and we have a Grinch green and we have a cinnamon poinsettia and then we have pots with all three colors.” 

After four years of operating Blais, Brito said she definitely appreciates the concept behind Small Business Saturday. 

“It’s so easy to go online or go to the big stores,” she said, “but small businesses are embedded in your community. My kids go to school with your kids. When you support a small business, you’re supporting family and employees and impacting the community.” 

One of the unique ornaments that Courtney MacMunn Schlachter makes and sells in her store, Quiet City Books, in Lewiston. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

At Quiet City Books in downtown Lewiston, owner Courtney Schlachter was putting the final touches on her Christmas display Friday night. She wanted to be ready for what is usually a very busy weekend. 

“People start shopping right after Thanksgiving, downtown especially,” Schlachter said. “Small Business Saturdays are always really good.” 

Schlachter was preparing for it on several fronts.  

“I have coupons that will be ready for tomorrow,” she said. “I have new Christmas books for kids and I’m also doing goody bags for children that come in.” 

By nightfall Friday, Schlachter had her Christmas tree up and decorated from top to bottom. 

“That’s the most fun part of getting ready for Christmas,” Schlachter said. 

Further out on Lisbon Street, the owners of El Pochos Mexican Grill were hoping that all the holiday shopping might leave people with big appetites. Traditionally, this isn’t the best time of year for Mexican restaurants. 

“It slows down around Thanksgiving and Christmas but we have our regulars and we sell tamales for both holidays which helps,” said Todd MacWhinnie, who runs El Pochos with his wife and her brother. “We are hoping for a busy Saturday for support Small Business Day — who doesn’t like a free churro with a $10 purchase?” 

Across the town line and into Lisbon, the owner of the take-out eatery Grazi to Go is likewise hoping for hungry shoppers. The restaurant, run by Mary Graziano Richard, is an offshoot of the popular Graziano’s Casa Mia Restaurant, which closed seven years ago. 

“I am hoping for a busy December with Christmas parties and orders,” Richard said. “I am running a special for the end of this month and December — buy three get one free of house Italian dressing and sauce.” 

Like Brito, Richard said she loves the concept of Small Business Saturday, regardless of how it impacts her personally. 

“I absolutely love to shop local at small stores,” she said. “I try to steer away from big box, but I have a secret fascination with Target. But again, would rather support the small businesses, especially the craft fairs. So fun this time of year.” 

Paul Poliquin, owner of Paul’s Clothing & Shoe Store, a fixture in downtown Lewiston for nearly 50 years, arranges a display in his store Friday afternoon as he and his staff gear up for Small Business Saturday. Many of his customers choose to patronize his store because most of his inventory is USA made, their knowledge of the products and personal customer service is something you can not get online, he says. “And people know I pay taxes here and put money back into the local economy.” Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

Some businesses were taking to social media to remind shoppers to remember the little guy on their way back from the big box stores. 

KP’s Place, an Auburn seafood restaurant, took to Facebook to declare that their food will be fresh and hot for those people busy shopping or otherwise celebrating the holidays. 

“Out and about shopping or hitting up the Feztival of Trees?” they wrote. “Come on in and we will get you full so you can get back at it. See you all soon!” 

At Hair 2000 in Lewiston, owner Kim Craig said  that in the days of super stores and two-day Amazon shipping, support of small business is more important than ever.

“It’s true what they say about small business owners putting almost all of their money back into the local economy,” Craig said. “I am much more conscientious of shopping local … I like to support fundraising by all the kids I know for their schools and sport organizations. I try to find gifts made by local vendors and support them as much as I can. I buy a local Christmas tree and decor. I choose the local grocery store, vegetable stand, fish and seafood business and all non-chain restaurants.”

After 26 years in the business, Craig no longer works on Saturdays. But she surely knows how important the holidays are to small shops like hers.

“Being a hairdresser during the holiday season,” she said, “means that you are 100 percent booked from mid-November to New Years Eve.”

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