Leading up to holiday season in past years, Andover native Mike Lamagna ran up and down Newbury Street in Boston, begging everyone he knew who owned a storefront on the busy city avenue to allow him to host a small pop-up event for his business, Long Wharf Supply Co.
Not this year, however.
Lamagna will live out his dream Saturday when he officially opens his company’s first brick-and-mortar space at 119 Newbury St. It also falls on Small Business Saturday, which business owners and officials say is essential for the long-term survival of local shops.
“It’s the one day of the year where everyone reflects on what they have on the line and when you own a small business, it’s your entire livelihood,” Lamagna said inside the store Friday. “There are real people behind small businesses, so when you purchase from a small business, you are supporting someone’s heart and soul and everything they’ve put into their business.”
Lamagna’s space will serve as a pop-up shop through the holiday season, and potentially longer, Lamagna said, if he secures a long-term lease. The store is full of the company’s staple items, fisherman sweaters crafted with cotton, lambs wool, and recycled oyster shells and plastic water bottles.
When customers walk through the store’s door from 1 to 4 pm Saturday, they will find Lamagna shucking oysters for them, while his family helps run the store.
As inflation hovers around 8%, the highest rate in 40 years, business officials are calling on consumers to realize that local shops need to be supported throughout the holiday season and entire year.
In an interview earlier this week, Jon Hurst, president of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts, suggested consumers invest some of their holiday-spending dollars into local businesses and to shop in-person. Online purchases represent just 5% of total holiday sales for small businesses, Hurst said.
“Every small business needs one of two things to survive: 1) higher sales, and 2) lower costs,” he said. “To some extent, those two objectives are going in the wrong direction; higher costs because of inflation, and sales, hopefully will go up, but that is up to the consumer and where they invest those dollars.”
Last year, independent retailers and restaurants brought in roughly $23.3 billion on Small Business Saturday, up 18% from $19.8 billion in 2020 and more than the $19.6 billion pre-pandemic spending in 2019, according to the American Express 2021 Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey .
In the study, 78% of independent retailers indicated holiday sales would “enable them to stay in business in 2022.”
Business owner Cynthia First spent Friday afternoon at her shop First Rugs with her 4-year-old golden doodle Fica, wondering how many customers she will see in the coming days.
First opened the shop, which sources and sells rugs, earlier this year on the first floor of a 5-story building in the SoWa Art and Design District. The business also has locations in Acton and New York City.
“It is one in a number of things that we are hoping will bolster the business,” First said, adding that she wished Small Business Saturday was actually a “small business month” through December.
For folks looking to support local businesses, artists and designers, the SoWa Arts District opened a Winter Festival and Holiday and Market on Friday that runs through December 11.