The Business Of Birthdays: How Downtown Entrepreneurs Celebrate Commercial Anniversaries

By Nancy Lavin The Frederick News-Post, Md.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) This article takes a look at how several small business owners take pride in celebrating the anniversary of the opening of their businesses. Whether it is one year or ten....these entrepreneurs are marking the date with cakes, balloons and in some cases discounts for the customers.

The Frederick News-Post, Md.

The front room of Crisafulli's Cheese Shop on Wednesday featured all the makings of a party -- cake, lemonade, smoked meats and of course, lots and lots of cheese.

People peered inside the room of the East Second Street shop, some hesitant to enter.

"Is this a special event?" someone asked.

"It's our birthday," owner Sharon Crisafulli replied with a smile. She beckoned cautious customers inside the event room to sample and share in the celebration.

Wednesday marked the one-year anniversary since she opened her specialty cheese and charcuterie shop. The two-hour afternoon party, as well as a daylong 10 percent discount, was her way of commemorating the milestone.

"I wanted it to be kind of like a birthday party," Crisafulli said, adding, "like something I would have in my home, with everything set up for people to enjoy."

Up the street at Lebherz Oil & Vinegar Emporium, owners Josh Russin and Maggie Lebherz were celebrating their own business anniversary.

Birthday balloons tied to the sidewalk sign, sidewalk chalk and a window display with a sign that read, "Hip Hip Hooray. It's our 6th Birthday!," let customers know about the North Market Street shop's six-year milestone.

Inside the store on Wednesday, though, there was no evidence of a party -- no cake, candles or discounts.

"We like to keep it more low key," Russin explained.

They had a cake for customers last year, for birthday number five, he said. But they've never done a discount or party.

The lack of party accessories didn't take away from the couple's excitement about their achievement, though.

"I am so thrilled it has been six years [in business,]" Lebherz said.

"It doesn't feel like it," Russin agreed.

Murray Friedman also keeps anniversary celebrations at Hunting Creek Outfitters on the understated side, he said.

The business's anniversary date falls on Father's Day weekend. Friedman said he'll typically offer a sale on a certain item on that weekend, but framed it more as a Father's Day special than a business anniversary event.

Shoppers at Chic to Chic Consignment also benefit from store discounts on birthdays, but not those for the store itself.

Store employees choose a type of sale to celebrate their own birthdays, according to Brittany Carpenter, store general manager. For example, she loves handbags, she said, so the East Patrick Store offered 20 percent off all handbags on her birthday weekend earlier this month.

The shop doesn't really do much to recognize its own anniversary of opening, she said. The Chic to Chic store in Gaithersburg celebrates with an anniversary tent sale and party, though. This May marked 19 years in business for the Gaithersburg location, which opened about 10 years before the Frederick store.

"It's more fun with the bigger numbers," Carpenter said.

Friedman agreed that bigger birthdays merit bigger events. He plans to organize some type of belated anniversary event at his business for the fall in honor of the 15 years since since he opened the outdoor equipment and clothing store.

He has hosted larger commemorations for anniversaries five and 10, too, although never any kind of birthday cake or marching band, he said.

"Maybe we'll have a cake this year," he said. "I'm not saying never."

For Friedman, business anniversary events or sales are less about him, and more about thanking the people who keep him in business.

"We couldn't do it without our loyal customers," he said. "We survive with the reoccurrence of regulars. And we grow based on their recommendations."

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