Linda Gallaher and her husband, Von,  own South Street Skateshop on Main Street in Rochester.

Linda Gallaher and her husband, Von, own South Street Skateshop on Main Street in Rochester.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Making spirits bright for small businesses could be more important than ever in Rochester area

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published November 22, 2021

 Piechnik’s Greenhouse & Garden Gate in Oakland Township hopes shoppers will shop small this holiday season.

Piechnik’s Greenhouse & Garden Gate in Oakland Township hopes shoppers will shop small this holiday season.

Photo provided by Piechnik’s Greenhouse & Garden Gate

 South Street Skateshop offers a variety of  skateboard decks, trucks and wheels.

South Street Skateshop offers a variety of skateboard decks, trucks and wheels.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

 Be Scene Boutique owners Christina Gaskins and Jessica Hall opened their boutique in downtown Rochester in March 2021.

Be Scene Boutique owners Christina Gaskins and Jessica Hall opened their boutique in downtown Rochester in March 2021.

Photo provided by Be Scene Boutique

Advertisement

ROCHESTER HILLS/ROCHESTER/OAKLAND TOWNSHIP — It’s the time of year when everyone is looking for holiday gifts, so why not check out some locally owned retail shops and restaurants to help round out your shopping list?

This holiday season, some argue that it’s even more important to buy local, which in turn can help support the community.

“Last year, it was really tough for businesses during COVID-19 — some were forced to close,” said Jenn O’Dell, the events coordinator for downtown Rochester. “And, quite honestly, I’ve heard businesses say 2021 has been a lot harder than 2020 for their businesses just because of shipping delays and not having all the products they want available.”

The push to shop small comes just before Plaid Friday — which celebrates diversity and independent businesses — and Small Business Saturday, held this year on Friday, Nov. 26, and Saturday, Nov. 27, respectively.

“Plaid Friday and Small Business Saturday both encourage people to shop small, shop locally and avoid the frenzy of Black Friday shopping and support local businesses,” O’Dell added.

Having a mix of local, small businesses alongside national retailers is important to a healthy downtown.

“We encourage shopping small all year, but especially for the holiday season,” O’Dell said. “You just might be supporting a big dream of a small business by shopping small and keeping the dollars local.”

Small businesses often pour their energy, time and money into local events and organizations that help strengthen the ties within a community. Many support local nonprofits with holiday toy drives, raffles and fundraisers.

South Street Skateshop has been in Rochester since 2005. Linda Gallaher, who owns the shop with her husband, Von, said the store has been very active in the community over the years, donating to the Big, Bright Light Show and participating in a number of downtown events — like Rochester Posed, trick-or-treating, Lagniappe and the new Cookie Stroll, to name a few. The store also finds it important to support local nonprofits and schools.

“Other than during the COVID shutdown, we were able to say yes to the majority of our local schools asking for donations for their special events. South Street is part of the community, and these families who are asking for donations are our customers, and ultimately, that’s why we are in business. Because this is our community and we support one another,” she said.

Small Business Saturday is a day for the community to show their support for local merchants, she said.

“It’s an opportunity for families to recognize our families, and small retail and food establishments, and their contributions to the local economy. This is the time of year when retail businesses and restaurants generate the majority of sales and income — a time of year that we all really depend on.”

When families patronize local small businesses, Gallaher said, they are essentially giving money back to the Rochester community.

“Local businesses generate high levels of revenue, which then those businesses will pay higher taxes, including property taxes, and the money that’s generated is used for local police and fire departments, as well as the schools and the downtown infrastructure. Downtown businesses also enhance the property value throughout our community while generating more property taxes for our community.”

While shopping online is easy, doing so, she said, may not keep tax revenue local.

“This is a problem for many small communities. The more money that we spend here, versus online or elsewhere, can only benefit us as a community. ... Small Business Saturday is so important to all of us,” Gallaher said.

Be Scene Boutique — which offers fashionable apparel, accessories, shoes and gift items — opened in downtown Rochester in March 2021. Although they’ve only been open a few months, owners Christina Gaskins and Jessica Hall have been giving back to the community in a multitude of different ways.

“We do many different fundraising parties here for local schools and dance studios, and we’ve even done custom shirts for the schools as another way to raise money for local school PTAs,” Gaskins explained. “We also try to promote other local businesses. During every one of our live sales, we will either purchase or another local business will donate a gift card to us and we raffle it off with a prize to encourage people to shop local and come down to downtown Rochester or Rochester Hills and support other local businesses.”

Those who shop Be Scene Boutique, whether in store or during one of the many live sales online, receive a personalized experience, according to Hall. Each order that goes out the door receives a handwritten note from one of the owners. And as the owners get to know each customer’s taste, they can begin to help recommend new items as they come in,  and even style outfits for a particular event.

“One of the things that we really pride ourselves on is creating that relationship with customers when they come in. We know a lot of our customers by name — even the ones that don’t live local and shop our live sales,” she explained.

Matt Colonius, of Piechnik’s Garden Gate in Oakland Township, said his business also frequently provides local support.

Colonius has been running the business with his friend Stan Piechnik and Piechnik’s sister Diane for over six years, building personal relationships with customers along the way.

Over the years, Piechnik’s has donated to the Veterans Memorial of Oakland Township, donated trees for downtown Rochester’s Festival of Trees to help support the Big, Bright Light Show, and has helped support various local sports teams with donations. The business has also worked with local clubs and local master gardeners.

“Supporting a local business helps the local community,” he said. “We give back and we employ local people, so there’s a lot of different ways that supporting a local business helps the immediate area.”

For more information about downtown Rochester, call (248) 656-0060 or visit downtownrochestermi.com.

Advertisement