‘We all help each other’: Local shopkeepers celebrate Small Business Saturday

  • Local vendors and artisans shop their wares as part of the Saturday Holiday Salon series at the LAVA Center in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

  • Athol resident Kent Hager shops at Bates Crafters Gallery in Orange. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

  • Bates Crafters Gallery in Orange. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

  • Co-owners Mike and Fran Bates of Bates Crafters Gallery in Orange. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

  • Rethreads Consignment Store in Shelburne Falls. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

Staff Writer
Published: 11/27/2022 1:44:51 PM
Modified: 11/27/2022 1:42:26 PM

ORANGE — While corporate giants thrived on Black Friday, small businesses took the next day to appreciate their own importance to a places like Franklin County and the North Quabbin region. 

“There’s a huge support system for small businesses in the area for sure,” said Mike Bates, who co-owns Bates Crafters Gallery and Bates Down Under in Orange alongside his wife, Fran Bates. “And we have fun with it.”

Bates, along with small business owners across the county, reported an excellent circulation of shoppers between Black Friday and Small Business Saturday. Even without any special sales this year, Bates’ shops drew many local residents who put loyalty first.

“I feel like Orange is really supportive of each other,” Fran Bates said, adding that even competing businesses lift each other up. “We all help each other. It’s not competition. If we don’t have something here, go there.”

“Obviously we’re trying to encourage everyone to come out and shop at these small businesses,” said Selectboard member Andrew Smith, who shopped at Bates Crafters Gallery on Saturday before going to Trail Head Outfitters & General Store and local tag sales. “As a Selectman, I like to shop Orange first.”

Athol resident Kent Hager, while shopping at Bates Crafters Gallery with his son Greg Hager, said he shops at small businesses because they’re “in the community for the community.” 

“They’re the ones who are giving back to the community as opposed to the big box stores,” Greg Hager said, citing Bates Crafters Gallery’s recent efforts to raise money for the town’s holiday decor.

“As much as the community comes to us, we like to be there for the community also,” Mike Bates said.

Mike and Fran Bates said they take particular pride in showcasing local creativity. Behind the checkout counter is a sign that displays the number of local craftspeople whose wares are being sold in the shop. This number sat at 97 on Saturday.

“We’ve been really lucky because most of the crafters we have come to us,” Mike Bates noted. “We don’t have to look very hard because there’s so much talent here.”

This prevalence of local productivity was celebrated by the LAVA Center in Greenfield this past weekend. Small Business Saturday marked the revival of their Holiday Salon series, which is in its third year bringing together local artisans, vendors and creatives.

“It’s really a core purpose of the LAVA Center to foster the community,” co-coordinator Jan Maher said.

The latest installment, held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., specifically focused on local writers and publishing companies, such as Dog Hollow Press and Human Error Publishing. Bringing in these unique and innovative minds, Maher said, is “part of the creative economy that is slowly but steadily growing here in Greenfield.”

“Each of them brings not only themselves, but people who know their work and supports their work,” she said. “It builds over time, and for me, that’s what really makes Greenfield a special place.”

Melissa Elie, who owns Rethreads Consignment Store in Shelburne Falls, said those who support local companies and businesses are supporting themselves.

“Not only do we own our storefronts and our stores, but we live here in the community,” she said. “By supporting us, you’re also supporting our community and our families.”

Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-930-4231 or jmendoza@recorder.com.

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