What to do and where to go on Small Business Saturday
Black Friday shopping isn’t your thing? Consider spending the day digesting and emerging from your food coma, then walk it off on Saturday — or rather, stroll it off.
Niantic Main Street is holding its 15th annual Holiday Stroll, The Velvet Mill in Stonington is hosting is third annual Holiday Stroll and the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut is kicking off its inaugural Holiday Shopping Trail.
They all fall on Small Business Saturday, an annual campaign that American Express launched in 2010, as communities were hurting from the Great Recession. According to a new study from American Express, 10 or more — and then enter to win prizes. It was inspired in part by the Connecticut Wine Trail.
Anyone interested can pick up a passport at one of the businesses (which are listed on the chamber website), gather stickers at shops and restaurants from Saturday through Dec. 9, and return the passport to the chamber office in Waterford in person or by mail.
One entrant with at least 20 stickers will win round-trip airfare to Ireland. One with at least 12 stickers will win a day-trip for two with Tours of Distinction. Fifty other prizes are available for those with at least five stickers.
“We’re worried about the small business community, and everyone should be worried about it,” chamber President Tony Sheridan said. He noted that small businesses help fund municipal services and schools, hire friends and neighbors, and support local youth sports teams.
Some of the Holiday Shopping Trail participants are among many that will have special deals and events on Small Business Saturday:
The Velvet Mill is holding its Holiday Stroll from 3 to 9 p.m., featuring music from the Stonington High School Band from 4 to 5, Santa and Mrs. Claus at Revival at 5, and a tree lighting at 6.
Elsewhere in Stonington Borough, Maggie Lee Designs Studio North is offering 20 percent off its Classic Compass Rose Collection, items are 40 percent off at Stonington Community Thrift Shop and Fun Company is offering free treats.
On state Route 1, Glaze Handmade will have pop-up shops from Imacake Vegan Bakery and Soulspaceart as part of its ongoing Makers & Bakers series.
Also hosting pop-up artisans is Salt Mystic, which will feature the baby accessories business BaublePop, natural skincare line Isankofa Life and furniture/home goods brand Yellow Table Design.
Discounts in downtown Mystic can be found at Curated (15 percent off select items), Mystic Seaport Museum Store (20 percent off for members), CT Quilt Works (10 percent off holiday fabrics) and MINE in Mystic (25 percent off inside, 50 percent off outside).
Santa will arrive on a 60-foot tugboat at Mystic River Park at 2 p.m. and stick around for the tree lighting at 6 and the 17th Annual Holiday Lighted Boat Parade at 6:20. For admission to the parade, bring a toy or coat to donate to the Pawcatuck Neighborhood Center.
Farther north in Mystic, shopping options abound at Olde Mistick Village and on Saturday, Santa and Mrs. Claus will be at the Meeting House from noon to 3 p.m.
The Greater Norwich Area Chamber of Commerce is holding its annual holiday bazaar at the Holiday Inn in Norwich from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
More than 70 vendors will be selling items like crafts, jewelry, photography, woodworking, skincare products, candles and baked goods. There will also be free hot chocolate and photos with Santa.
Santa will also be at the Liberty Bank branch on State Street from 5 to 6:30 p.m., one of many events that are part of New London Main Street’s annual Celebration of Lights & Song.
At different times from 1:30 to 5 p.m., visitors can make a poinsettia craft, meet an Eastern Connecticut Ballet ballerina and hear music from the Eastern CT Symphony Chorus.
There will be special deals at the Custom House Maritime Museum shop, Berry’s Ice Cream & Candy Bar and Homeward Bound Treasures, and Hygienic Art will have the opening reception of its annual Art=Gift show from 7 to 10 p.m.
Lasting from 3 to 7 p.m., the Niantic Main Street Holiday Stroll will feature free horse-drawn carriage rides, children’s crafts, a scavenger hunt, wandering carolers, a “North Pole Ring Toss” and a visit from Santa.
The chili cook-off, at Pro Tek Auto from 3 to 4, will include Castello of Niantic, Café SoL, Charlie’s Place, Festive Catering and Lillian’s Café.
Elsewhere in East Lyme, Wild Bird Unlimited is offering a gift with a purchase of 20 bonus with the purchase of a $100 community-supported agriculture share.