Small Business Weekend aims to keep it local

Act­ive mem­bers of the May­fair Busi­ness As­so­ci­ation gath­er to dis­cuss how to cre­ate more growth for small buisi­nesses in May­fair. (Maria Pouch­nikova)

Mi­chael Blichasz wants people to think be­fore spend­ing their money shop­ping this com­ing Fri­day, Sat­urday and Sunday.

A Tor­res­dale res­id­ent and self-de­scribed “Amer­ic­an work­ers’ ad­voc­ate,” he has es­tab­lished Na­tion­al Small Busi­ness Week­end.

Blichasz wants con­sumers to pat­ron­ize small busi­nesses on the first week­end of every month in every state across the coun­try. The way he sees it, the cam­paign’s suc­cess would keep area res­id­ents em­ployed and boost the loc­al eco­nomy.

Fed­er­al gov­ern­ment stat­ist­ics show that Amer­ic­an small busi­nesses — defined as com­pan­ies of 500 or few­er work­ers — em­ploy about 60 mil­lion people.

Shop­ping at these stores, Blichasz said, will give con­sumers a look at their products and ser­vices, and he hopes the busi­nesses will try to en­tice more cus­tom­ers by of­fer­ing sales, spe­cials and deals.

“Don’t for­get your loc­al com­munit­ies,” he said. “Go out of your way to help them stay afloat. Without them, neigh­bor­hoods would not have vi­brancy.”

As part of the ini­ti­at­ive, Blichasz would like to see small busi­nesses of­fer more Amer­ic­an-made products and for cus­tom­ers to pur­chase those items.

More people would shop along com­mer­cial cor­ridors, he be­lieves, if park­ing were more con­veni­ent. He re­com­mends the Phil­adelphia Park­ing Au­thor­ity of­fer free park­ing on the first Sat­urday of the month.

Blichasz, who serves as pres­id­ent of the Pol­ish Amer­ic­an Cul­tur­al Cen­ter, pro­motes his ideas on a weekly show on WWDB (860 AM) and at na­tion­als­mall­busi­nes­s­week­

Some loc­al busi­ness as­so­ci­ations are re­cept­ive to his ideas.

The Frank­ford Busi­ness and Pro­fes­sion­al As­so­ci­ation and the Frank­ford Com­munity De­vel­op­ment Cor­por­a­tion want to at­tract new busi­nesses to Frank­ford Av­en­ue and side streets. They are also on board with Small Busi­ness Sat­urday, an Amer­ic­an Ex­press-sponsored ini­ti­at­ive to en­cour­age con­sumers to pat­ron­ize loc­al shops on the week­end.

“The more money spent in Frank­ford, the more jobs cre­ated with­in Frank­ford,” said Michelle Feld­man, sec­ret­ary of the busi­ness as­so­ci­ation and former CDC com­mer­cial cor­ridor man­ager.

Sally Dan­ciu has been in the flower busi­ness for 36 years. Sally’s Flowers, at 7944 Ox­ford Ave., is an in­sti­tu­tion in Fox Chase.

The busi­ness­wo­man pat­ron­izes loc­al res­taur­ants, gift shops, dry clean­ers and oth­er stores, and she’s act­ive with the Rockledge-Fox Chase Busi­ness As­so­ci­ation, the Great­er North­east Phil­adelphia Cham­ber of Com­merce and a loc­al Rotary club be­cause, “That’s what small busi­ness people do.”

“It makes good busi­ness sense to sup­port loc­al mer­chants,” she said.

Lou Iatarola served four years as pres­id­ent of the Ta­cony Busi­ness As­so­ci­ation, and his fath­er of the same name headed the group in the 1990s. Today, the busi­ness as­so­ci­ation is look­ing to re­or­gan­ize, though the Ta­cony Com­munity De­vel­op­ment Cor­por­a­tion is act­ive in vari­ous ways.

An ap­praiser and Re­altor who pro­motes Ta­cony’s his­tor­ic­al sig­ni­fic­ance, Iatarola likes what he hears about Na­tion­al Small Busi­ness Week­end.

“It’s ex­actly what we need, a broad­er move­ment to get the pub­lic to shop loc­ally,” he said. “Too many people hop in their cars and don’t real­ize what’s in their own back­yard.”

Mike “Scoats” Scotese is co-own­er of the Hop An­gel Brauhaus in Fox Chase and own­er of the Grey Lodge Pub in May­fair. He also serves as pres­id­ent of the May­fair Busi­ness As­so­ci­ation.

Earli­er this spring, Scotese and some fel­low May­fair mer­chants had an in­tro­duct­ory meet­ing with Blichasz at the neigh­bor­hood’s best-known in­ter­sec­tion, Frank­ford and Cottman av­en­ues. The bar/res­taur­ant own­er said he and oth­er small busi­ness own­ers try to give back to the com­munity.

“We’re the busi­nesses most likely to sup­port neigh­bor­hood fun­draisers,” he said. “The money spent in the neigh­bor­hood stays in the neigh­bor­hood. We have a lot less over­head. We don’t have CEOs mak­ing 40 mil­lion dol­lars.”

Mark Gil­bert helps run four fam­ily-owned su­per­mar­kets, in­clud­ing the Hol­i­day Thrift­way in Frank­ford and May­fair Shop n Bag. He’s treas­urer of the Frank­ford Busi­ness and Pro­fes­sion­al As­so­ci­ation and act­ive with the May­fair Busi­ness As­so­ci­ation. His stores sup­port neigh­bor­hood activ­it­ies, and he hopes loc­al folks re­ward the com­pany with their busi­ness.

“We sup­port the com­munity and have com­pet­it­ive pri­cing and qual­ity products,” he said.

Ant­oniette Mont­gomery, own­er of Tor­res­dale Flower Shop, 7332 Frank­ford Ave., said cus­tom­ers of loc­al busi­nesses get to know the em­ploy­ees, man­agers and own­ers.

Bill Beck­er, own­er of Headquar­ters, 7213 Frank­ford Ave., said the goods he sells are “home-grown stuff” and the classes offered fea­ture loc­al artists and stu­dents.

Lisa Greco, own­er of Bel­lal­isa Hair Stu­dio, 3530 Cottman Ave., said her shop has the feel of Cheers, where every­body knows your name. Greco, who shops at loc­al hard­ware stores rather than their gi­ant com­pet­it­ors, thinks small busi­nesses of­fer friendly cus­tom­er ser­vice and a fam­ily at­mo­sphere. As a May­fair Busi­ness As­so­ci­ation board mem­ber, she hopes to see a vari­ety of new busi­nesses open to serve the com­munity.

“We want to keep the neigh­bor­hood alive,” she said. ••

Re­port­er Tom War­ing can be reached at 215-354-3034 or twar­

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