Downtown merchants hoping for their share of holiday shoppers

One downtown shop owner said every day should be Small Business Saturday.

Small Business Saturday was Nov. 24, and Milford’s downtown merchants were catering to the day’s shoppers as the day got underway and waiting for more to make their way to the shops near the green.

Small Business Saturday was started two years ago by American Express to promote shopping in small community stores.

“Small Business Saturday is a day for everyone — from the business owners who create jobs to the customers who buy locally — to support small businesses that invigorate the economy and keep communities thriving,” states the American Express website.

The Canvas Patch on River Street was busy at 11 a.m. Saturday. Owner Marti Reed was wrapping and ringing holiday gifts and hoping the line of shoppers held steady through the day. Holiday ornaments, home accents and Milford memorabilia seemed to be high on the list for customers at her store.

Susan Shaw, who owns Collected Stories Bookstore on Daniel Street, said the day was going great as noon time approached and actually started Friday night when the city hosted its annual tree lighting ceremony.

It was Shaw who said that Small Business Saturday should be every day.

Small downtown shops are no different than the big stores that count on year-end holiday sales to put them in the black, she said. The early months of the year are typically slow, and most retailers, big or small, aim to catch up at year’s end.

She added that downtown shoppers have a chance to find unique gifts and stroll through the open air from store to store.

At Whispers from Lady Olgas Lingerie, Lori Vazzano was busy helping several shoppers pick out items that look good and fit right. It’s the individual attention offered downtown that really makes shopping here a unique experience, she said.

Saturday was a special day for downtown shops, she and other downtown merchants said. But they agree that downtown is a great place to shop all holiday season, and year-round.

“Besides the personal service, you want to help your community,” Vazzano said. “If you don’t visit these stores, they won’t stay open.”

Downtown Milford shops number about 35, plus restaurants, and include stores like Bags on the Green which sells designer inspired purses and accessories; the Gilded Lily Gallery, H. Magels Confectioner, Me Boutique, Milford Photo, Village Vogue  Boutique and Gray Barn antiques. There is a jeweler, food/kitchen shop, bike shop, ocean-inspired home decor shop and more.

“We have enough stores to fill a mall,” Shaw said. “We’re just missing the roof.”