Small Business Saturday: For these Lehigh Valley merchants, it’s ‘the biggest shopping weekend of the year’

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EMMAUS, Pa. — From the instant one enters David’s Italian Market, their taste buds spring a leak.

Aromas from freshly baked stuffed mushroom caps, chicken cutlets, meatball parmigiana sandwiches and more act like a plumber’s wrench busting open a rusty water pipe.

“Our food is good and business is good,” said manager Margo Cottone on Monday.

On Small Business Saturday, business is considerably better.

“We have a 25-to-35% jump in business that day,” Cottone said.

That day is this Saturday in Emmaus, throughout the Greater Lehigh Valley and the nation.

“We make a big push this weekend with gift certificate specials tied to Small Business Saturday and the rest of the month,” Cottone said.

Small Business Saturday was created in 2010 by credit card company American Express as an attempt to promote economic recovery and consumer spending in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, which hurt many small retailers.

The event gives shoppers an opportunity to show support for local businesses — not only during the winter holiday season but throughout the year — instead of shopping at national big-box companies.

“This is a weekend when we encourage the whole community to shop local.”

Hayden Rinde, manager of Emmaus Main Street Partners

“This coming weekend is the biggest shopping weekend of the year,” said Hayden Rinde, manager of Emmaus Main Street Partners and assistant vice president of the Greater Lehigh Valley Affiliated Chambers of Commerce.

Phil Gianficaro


In Emmaus, Small Business Saturday is designed to encourage supporting locally owned business instead of nationally owned big-box stores.

“Small business is the lifeblood of a community. They’re our neighbors, our friends, our family. This is a weekend when we encourage the whole community to shop local.”

Emmaus Main Street Partners was incorporated in 1995 as a nonprofit program to support and revitalize the Emmaus historic downtown.

SBS running store.jpg

Phil Gianficaro


Small Business Saturday is responsible for as much as a 40% increase in sales on that day, according to store manager Tyler Long.

At the Emmaus Run Inn, among the nation’s top running stores, Small Business Saturday increases sales between 35 and 40%.

“People make it a point to shop locally on Small Business Saturday,” said store manager Tyler Long. “We run special promotions to attract customers — whether they live locally or for people coming from out of town to be with family for the holiday.

“Small Business Saturday really helps local businesses.”

In terms of their impact on the economy, small businesses aren’t actually that small.

Small businesses are generally defined by the U.S. Small Business Association (SBA) as independent businesses having fewer than 500 employees.

Based on SBA’s definition, there are 33.2 million small businesses in America, which account for 99.9% of all U.S. firms.

Small businesses are credited with just under two-thirds of the new jobs created from 1995 through 201, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Small businesses employ 46% of the nation’s private sector workforce and represent more than 43% of gross domestic product.

Emmaus shoppers can visit to learn what participating businesses are offering on Small Business Saturday.

Shoppers can also pick up free swag bags at Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Valley Partners on Main Street on Saturday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

At Grandpa Joe’s Candy Shop on Main Street, employee Sarah Paradis filled a box with penny-type candy at the $5 candy buffet.

Perhaps the only thing sweeter is the increase in sales on Small Business Saturday.

“That day is like Black Friday; we’re busier than usual,” said assistant manager Brian Fey. “For example, we usually make about $1,000 on a typical Saturday. Last year on Small Business Saturday, we did $2,200.

“It helps more than I can say.”

Rinde believes small businesses and the folks who own and operate them are what define the special nature of Emmaus.

“Those businesses are what make this such a cute, quaint town,” she said. “They are the blood, sweat and tears of the town. It’s important for the community to come out and support them, not just on Small Business Saturday but all year long.”

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