Northeast Times

Small business? This weekend is a golden opportunity

The poster Mi­chael Blichasz made avail­able for stores to ad­vert­ise their par­ti­cip­a­tion in Na­tion­al Small Busi­ness Week­end. Stores can also make their own pro­mo­tion­al ma­ter­i­als, he said. COUR­TESY OF MI­CHAEL BLICHASZ

To help sup­port the River Wards’ small busi­nesses, one former Port Rich­mond man is pro­mot­ing Na­tion­al Small Busi­ness Week­end. All a busi­ness would have to do is pro­mote its par­ti­cip­a­tion, and per­haps of­fer spe­cial deals or dis­counts the first week­end of each month. All cus­tom­ers would have to do is shop at their neigh­bor­hood stores. It’s a small way to make a big dif­fer­ence in com­munit­ies where in­de­pend­ent mer­chants are sta­tioned on nearly every corner.

The River Wards are of­ten de­scribed as up-and-com­ing neigh­bor­hoods, thanks to bur­geon­ing res­id­en­tial de­vel­op­ment as well as the open­ings of busi­nesses.

Though some of those busi­nesses are big-box stores or chains, at the heart of the River Wards are small busi­nesses. Boutiques, mom-and-pop pizza shops, del­is or gift shops make up the land­scape of the neigh­bor­hoods.

And while times are tough for any busi­nesses, Mi­chael Blichasz said small busi­nesses are hit par­tic­u­larly hard.

That’s why he said he’s work­ing to en­cour­age in­de­pend­ent mer­chants throughout the city to par­ti­cip­ate in Na­tion­al Small Busi­ness Week­end.

Blichasz, pres­id­ent of the Pol­ish Amer­ic­an Cul­tur­al Cen­ter, 308 Wal­nut St., lived with his fam­ily in Port Rich­mond years ago. He is also the pro­gram host of Amer­ic­an Work­ers Ra­dio, which broad­casts on 860 AM, where his broad­casts cel­eb­rate Amer­ic­an busi­nesses and Amer­ic­an-made products.

The week­end, he said, is an off­shoot of the Amer­ic­an Ex­press-sponsored Small Busi­ness Sat­urday, Nov. 24, the Sat­urday after Thanks­giv­ing that’s part­ner to oth­er shop­ping-cent­ric days that week, like Black Fri­day and Cy­ber Monday.

In 2012 on Small Busi­ness Sat­urday, con­sumers spent a total of $5.5 bil­lion with in­de­pend­ent mer­chants, ac­cord­ing to Amer­ic­an Ex­press’ re­ports.

Phil­adelphia’s First Fri­day is a sim­il­ar pro­mo­tion dur­ing which art gal­ler­ies across the city host monthly open houses, and mer­chants and res­taur­ants of­ten of­fer spe­cial deals or free­bies.

In­stead of just one day a year, Blichasz said, he wants loc­al in­de­pend­ent mer­chants to pro­mote Na­tion­al Small Busi­ness Week­end the first Fri­day, Sat­urday and Sunday of each month. The next one, then, would be Feb. 1 through 3.

“Just go spend your money there [at small busi­nesses],” Blichasz said.

Stores that par­ti­cip­ate simply ad­vert­ise, he said, via a poster in the store win­dow, loc­al ad­vert­ising, so­cial me­dia or simply word of mouth, that they are a part of Small Busi­ness Week­end.

It costs noth­ing for the stores, but Blichasz said in or­der to fur­ther en­tice cus­tom­ers to shop, a store could run spe­cial deals, sales or pro­mo­tions dur­ing that week­end.

First Fri­day par­ti­cipants, for ex­ample, of­fer free ap­pet­izers or wine, up to 50 per­cent dis­counts, or event live mu­sic in their stores or gal­ler­ies.

“A bakery could give 14 rolls in a dozen, or a store could of­fer a per­cent­age dis­count on cer­tain items,” he said. “People have to be cre­at­ive on their own.”

Blichasz said he’s been pro­mot­ing the week­end for about a year. He also made made up posters for busi­nesses to post in store­front win­dows ad­vert­ising their par­ti­cip­a­tion.

Busi­nesses that ex­pressed in­terest and took the posters, he said, in­cluded Polka Deli, 2719 E. Al­legheny Ave., Pol­ish Amer­ic­an Travel, at 2714 E. Al­legheny Ave., and Krak­us Mar­ket, at 3150 Rich­mond St.

He said the pro­mo­tion hasn’t yet taken off, but he isn’t giv­ing up.

“If there’s ever a time to try to re­vital­ize, it’s now,” he said.

Port Rich­mond res­id­ent Theresa Ro­manowski, who works at the Pol­ish Amer­ic­an Cul­tur­al Cen­ter, said it’s im­port­ant that small busi­nesses are sup­por­ted their sur­round­ing com­munit­ies. In Port Rich­mond par­tic­u­larly, she said busi­nesses is com­ing back around. 

“Something is stir­ring up in the neigh­bor­hood,” she said.

Star will pub­lish a list of busi­nesses who par­ti­cip­ate in Na­tion­al Small Busi­ness Week­end. Let us know how you’re pro­mot­ing your par­ti­cip­a­tion and if you’re of­fer­ing any spe­cial deals. Con­tact star@bsmphilly.com with de­tails.

To print the pro­mo­tion poster or learn more about Na­tion­al Small Busi­ness Week­end, vis­it na­tion­als­mall­busi­nes­s­week­end.com.

More in­form­a­tion on Amer­ic­an Work­ers Ra­dio can be found at amer­ic­an­work­er­sneedy­ou.com and amer­ic­an­work­er­sra­dio.com.

Star Man­aging Ed­it­or Mi­kala Jam­is­on can be reached at 215-354-3113 or at mjam­is­on@bsmphilly.com.

You can reach at mjamison@bsmphilly.com.

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