It’s the one shopping day on Saturday in late November when small businesses get to thrive before Christmas and other holidays — the day when customers can show their appreciation to these merchants as they shop for the perfect gift and the store owners have stocked their shelves with specialty items.
Affectionately known around the nation as Small Business Saturday, it’s a big shopping day downtown. While it may start with the name “small,” it’s anything but for those business owners and employees who’ve bounced back out of the blues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic years.
Many of the City of Williamsport businesses participate and are members of the Williamsport Business Association, which placed a special emphasis on Small Business Saturday following the Black Friday shopping rush.
Ahead of these shopping days, several Williamsport store owners told the Sun-Gazette they are geared up for Small Business Saturday and have prepared by putting out decorations, ordering the extra stock, creatively arranging the merchandise in their stores and adding shelves and space for browsers .
Williamsport has a number of stores that offer perfect gifts, and they have a wealth of knowledgeable and friendly store owners and sales staff who are always willing to lend an ear to what the customer specifically needs.
Whether it is fine mens wear, jewelry, candies or treats, or hand-made craft items — the city is a one-stop shopping destination.
For those with a concern about parking, the Williamsport Parking Authority is offering all-day-long free parking for Saturday shopping, so there will be no shortage of places in which to park, walk and dine.
Williamsport Parking Authority is offering parking for free after 3 pm every day from Monday, Nov. 28, through Christmas.
For those shopping for gifts for men, The Clothier, 138 W. Fourth St., is truly a one-of-a-kind store, with an endless inventory of men’s casual wear, shoes and suits — anything needed from head to toe.
The store is an institution, with over 17,000 square feet of store space that has suits, slacks, sportswear, beachwear, summerwear, shoes, sandals, ties, bow ties, all-leather belts and endless racks of dresswear, including hats and a variety of spray-on colognes.
Best of all, the customer service is top notch. Francis Ciccarelli, Karen, his wife, and son, Matthew, are celebrating 37 years in business this Thanksgiving and holiday shopping season.
The family is always helpful and one can be confident they will be perfectly fitted.
“We order well ahead,” Francis said. “At least nine months ahead to avoid any delays in shipping.”
The Clothier is a must stop for holiday shopping ideas and gifts.
For those with a sweet tooth, Le Chocolat, 420 Pine St., is a traditional “mom and pop” chocolates and treats store that has been in existence for nearly three decades.
“This year, all Christmas candies, chocolate trees, Santas and lollipops are in,” said Bernie Katz, who co-owns the store with his wife, Bonnie.
“We’ve not had to back order on anything,” Bernie said. “We’re shocked full.”
Stop in for the melt-in-your-mouth truffles that come in 16 flavors. They will make boxes up as you like.
“It’s not pre-packed,” Katz said. “We put in what you like in them.”
Just a block away, is Lang’s Chocolates, 350 Pine St., which offers crunch peanut brittle, tasty chocolate gift boxes, truffles, sugar free treats and other specialties.
For the book-lover, there’s Otto Bookstore, 107 W. Fourth St., America’s oldest independently owned bookstore.
“We’ve revamped and lived up the store,” said Katy Nassberg, a co-owner of the store at 107 W. Fourth St. They’ve added inventory and shelf space for browsing.
“We’d love to have people come in and see what we’ve done to liven things up,” Nassberg said.
Sales and sparkle
“We are absolutely ready,” an employee at Avu Goldsmiths, 246 E. Church St., said of preparing for the Saturday Christmas and holiday shopping rush.
Specializing in hand-crafted jewelry, as well as items from local artisans and fair trade artisans, the store is owned by Jennifer Parks, and belongs to the Williamsport Business Association.
Christmas ornaments adorn the store’s interior with felt animals, stained glass snowflakes and hand-sculpted snowflakes made out of glass.
“We’re looking forward to it,” said Amber Kastner of Rust & Shine, 600 Cemetery St., a unique gift shop just west of downtown.
Kastner said the trio of owners there enjoy showing their appreciation to loyal and new customers.
A plan is in place to provide eats at the site, with food trucks and a wine sampling, she said.
For those seeking apparel and accessories, Skeleton Key Boutique has sites in Williamsport and Lock Haven and is available at The Skeleton Key Boutique on Facebook.
“We have been super busy at both locations filling the stores with lots of new styles,” a shop employee said.
“We will have several different Doorbuster styles all $25 and under in sizes Small-3X for this weekend,” she said.
Additionally, the store added a stocking stuff bar to each location with the perfect gift items for everyone on a list.
New items are literally hitting the floors daily.
Skeleton Key Williamsport, 442 William St., hours are Tuesday through Friday 11 am to 6 pm and Saturday 10 am to 3 pm
Many other stores are open and prepared for the big shopping day.
Some are offering 15% off, special passports and a chance to win dinner.
The Williamsport Business Association is presenting the Small Business Shopping Passport.
Go to the WBA website to download a copy of the passport or visit one of the businesses listed to pick up a passport.
Today through the Catch the Spirit event on Dec. 16, shoppers may present the passport at any of WBA-participating businesses, for 15% off of any one item or service.
Shoppers can collect a stamp from each participating business. Passports with at least eight stamps can be dropped in the box outside of Patinaz, 38 W. Fourth St., for a chance to win a $100 gift card to the member restaurant of the winner’s choice.
Restaurant sponsors include Stonehouse Pizza, 343 Pine St.; Moon & Raven Pub, 155 W. Fourth St.; Rosko’s Brew House, 601 Pine St.; and The Bar on Market, 341 Market St.
Due to the variety of products/services offered by WBA members, some exclusions may apply.
Participating Passport Business List:
• The Clothier, 138 W. Fourth St.
• Freshlife, 2350 E.Third St.
• Warehouse 124, 124 Reynolds St., South Williamsport
• Valley Apparel, 218 S. Market St., South Williamsport
• Avu Goldsmiths, 246 E. Church St.
• Rust & Shine, 600 Cemetery St.
• Gustonian Gifts, 357 Pine St.
• The Chocolate, 420 Pine St.
• Lang’s Chocolates, 350 Pine St.
• WAXED Williamsport, 434 William St.
• Steleten Key Boutique, 442 William St.
• Patinaz, 38 W. Fourth St.
• Galina’s Boutique, 40 W. Fourth St.
• Otto Bookstore, 107 W. Fourth St.
• Plankenhorn Stationery, 144 W. Fourth St.
• Miles Welby, A Candle Co., 151 W. Fourth St.
• The Boutique (YWCA), 815 W. Fourth St.
• Rich Port Adventure Co., 50 Angletown Road, Muncy