By Susan Lunny Keag
Staten Island Advance, N.Y.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) This article from the Staten Island advance looks at ways in which retailers are drawing in customers this holiday season. One business owner points out that even when people look online, they often still are drawn to stores to see the product in person.
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y.
Staten Island businesses don’t have it easy during the holidays, as their competition comes from other boroughs and states — and of course worldwide entrepreneurs thanks to E-commerce.
However, by employing some simple strategies, local business owners have found ways to compete and attract holiday shoppers during this busy season.
Gerald Amerosi Sr., president and owner of Gerald Peters in the Staten Island Mall, says the first secret to success he’s found is providing customers with a “better shopping experience.”
What does a positive shopping experience include? “They want a nice store to shop in and better brands,” Amerosi said.
At Gerald Peters, Amerosi continues to bring in new quality brands year after year, since customers, he finds, are very brand-conscious.
Amerosi said that young customers, especially, have a particular brand in mind when shopping. The store owner makes sure he is an authorized dealer of many popular brands, from Alex and Ani to Tacori.
“All the brands are online. People walk in from the Internet and show us a picture from their phone saying, ‘I want this’,” explained Amerosi, who also owns Pandora in the Staten Island Mall, as well as a Pandora store in Ocean Country, N.J.
Dean Balsamini Sr., director of the Small Business Development Center at the College of Staten Island, said that even when people look online, they often still are drawn to stores to see the product in person.
“Even when people do want to order online, they like to go to brick and mortar stores to see what it looks like,” Balsamini said.
He added that many local businesses use social media as another strategy for attracting holiday shoppers.
“It’s a great way to advertise and promote your business,” explained Balsamini, noting that more than 75 percent to 80 percent of business owners have the know-how to use social media for promotion.
Many groups, including millennials, have particularly gravitated to using social media as a smart cost-effective business strategy, said Balsamini.
Nancy Nix and Carolyn Aston-Reese, co-owners of Wicked Stitches in West Brighton, have often used social media to attract customers and showcase their line of thoughtful customized gifts for kids and adults alike.
“It’s the one time of year that people really want to do something special,” said Nix. “A personalized gift shows you spent a few minutes and thought of that person. It doesn’t have to be a million dollar gift, it just has to be something you really thought about.”
The pictures of their personalized designs, including embroidered pillows, aprons, bags, wine bottle holders and clothes, can be found on various social media outlets, including Facebook and Instagram.
In addition to taking to social media to showcase their products, Nix and Reese also participate in local events like Small Business Saturday, which will take place this year on Saturday, Nov. 26.
Balsamini said that all local businesses should get involved in local events which attract crowds of holiday shoppers. He noted that last year more than $16 billion was spent nationwide on Small Business Saturday, which drew 95 million shoppers last year.
Another business strategy utilized by store owners is forging partnerships.
Wicked Stitches recently partnered with Pampered Chef to create a practical, yet creative, custom gift. Using a cooler lunch tote with a monogram, they combined it with an embroidered napkin. They also took a wine bag and turned it into a utensil carrier, complete with a collection of spatulas, wooden spoons, etc. with the logo, “Flippin Awesome” on it.
“We wanted to think out of the box,” explained Nix.