Small Business Saturday Means Big Business

CHAMBERSBURG, PA – Small Business Saturday in downtown Chambersburg was a big success, continuing a tradition of community support to kick off the holiday shopping season.

Held the Saturday after Thanksgiving, the event brought holiday shoppers to more than 25 participating downtown businesses, most of which are located along Main Street. A few on the outskirts – including GearHouse Brewing Co., Jan Zell Wines and Ciders, Nathan Miller Chocolate and Roy Pitz Brewing Co. – also welcomed customers in to see what’s missing in big-box stores.

The absence of the icy conditions that marred the same day in 2018 contributed to the better crowds, as did an increase in the amount of Downtown Dollars offered. More than $2,500 was given away to shoppers who presented receipts for $25 or more dated Nov. 30 from a downtown Chambersburg business. Those who exhibited their proofs of purchase in front of F&M Trust on Memorial Square reached into a bag to pull out one of the Downtown Dollars, most worth $10, $20 or $50 for use that day at local businesses. The crown jewel was one “golden ticket” worth $100.

Downtown Chambersburg Inc.’s eighth year of coordinating Small Business Saturday went “very, very well,” said President Sam Thrush. He was told by one participating business that the 2019 version was “the best one ever” and by another that, at times, it was hard to move around in the store because it was so crowded.

“It was a fantastic day,” said Kara Taylor, owner of The Gift Enclosure at 78 S. Main St. “It’s our busiest day of the year.”

Since 2013, Taylor has owned the gift shop, which primarily sells Vera Bradley products but also offers items such as candles and lotions. It has been open since 1983, and the community has always been supportive.

“We see the value that our community places on the small businesses downtown,” Taylor said. On Small Business Saturday, “It is an intentional decision to come out for the day. They really have gotten behind this. People have really rallied for the day.”

“For us, usually Saturdays are busy,” said Amer Chaudhry, owner of Falafel Shack at 9 N. Main St., which serves Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine. Small Business Saturday “was a little bit busier than usual. It was great.”

Chaudhry said the farm-to-table restaurant features specials on most days, highlighting whatever is in season. Garlic naan with chicken curry was the special on Nov. 30, when the amount of foot traffic downtown was noticeably higher.

Thrush did more a social-media push, too, including being an active “conversation starter” on several Facebook public groups promoting events happening in the region. He also used Instagram more this year, utilized four digital billboards and had a radio personality from 104.7 WAYZ on-site the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

The presenting sponsors, Downtown Business Council and F&M Trust, gave a combined $3,000, $2,500 of which went toward the Downtown Dollars, Thrush said. The rest went to marketing. Other sponsors were the FirstEnergy Foundation, The Franklin Shopper, Franklin County Visitors Bureau and VFW Post 1599. Media sponsors were VerStandig Media and Kegerreis Outdoor Advertising.

Having volunteers on hand from the presenting sponsors was extremely helpful, Thrush said, freeing him to check in on the businesses throughout Small Business Saturday. Many others donated their time throughout the day, helped set up decorations, greeted shoppers and answered questions about the local shops.

“It’s not just the community being there buying things, but volunteers carving out time to help that illustrates how important small businesses are to communities such as Chambersburg,” Thrush said.

For more information about Downtown Chambersburg Inc., go to or call 717-264-7101.

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