Matt Colonius, the co-owner of Piechnik’s Garden Gate in Oakland Township, welcomes people with his dog Duke, an 18-year-old  yellow Lab.

Matt Colonius, the co-owner of Piechnik’s Garden Gate in Oakland Township, welcomes people with his dog Duke, an 18-year-old yellow Lab.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Rochester, Rochester Hills and Oakland Township small businesses lend a helping hand in the community

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published November 16, 2018


ROCHESTER/ROCHESTER HILLS/OAKLAND TOWNSHIP — Small businesses often pour their energy, time and money into local events and organizations that help strengthen the ties within a community.

Just ask Stan Piechnik, of Piechnik’s Garden Gate in Oakland Township, who said his business frequently provides local support.

“We were involved in the Veterans Memorial — we did quite a bit of donations for that — we work with a lot of clubs and master gardener donations, and we do some sport team donations,” he said.

Shoppers, retailers and business analysts are paying more attention to the impact of small businesss as Small Business Saturday approaches Nov. 24. The campaign encourages consumers to buy locally from small businesses.

Piechnik has been running the business with his sister, Diane, and friend Matt Colonius for about six years, building personal relationships with customers along the way. They opened their first location in Clio in 1984.

“Sometimes we’re bending over backwards for our customers, which we don’t mind doing because without them, we’re not here, and without us, they have no choices,” Piechnik said.

Diane Christopher, of Pine Tree Furniture and Lighting, a third-generation family business in Lake Orion, said a big part of what makes small businesses successful is word-of-mouth.

“We always ask, if we’ve done a great job, help us out and say something good so that your referral can help us grow our business,” Christopher said. “When you get a great experience at a small, family-owned business, no matter what it is, that referral goes a long way.”

In turn, she said small businesses are inclined to show their support for the community.

“As a stand-alone, one store, we support all three of the local high schools — in terms of advertising, donations for silent raffles and benefits, and support financially for their programs,” she said, noting that the shop also supports the A Mother’s Wish program in Oakland County. “I think it’s important (to give back) because we’re all a community. We kind of look at it as one big family.”

Paul Haig, of Haig’s of Rochester Fine Jewelry & Objects of Art, believes that building community through donations, as well as referrals, is essential for small businesses.

Haig donates his time and money — via lectures, free appraisals, items for auctions and more — throughout the community regularly.

“I think we give at least one thing away a week,” he said. “People bring things to me all the time, and I help them with the value of them.”

Giving back locally, Haig said, also helps grow business.

“If I do an appraisal daily and I’m helping people, it’s worth a good amount of money to me in the future, because people will come in and see me. I don’t expect that; it just happens. ... It creates an awareness that I’m here, in the community, helping,” he said.

Haig also makes it a point to refer his customers to other local merchants so that as his foot traffic increases, other nearby businesses benefit.

“You gotta be part of the community. If you’re not in the community and working with the community, you’re not part of the community,” he said.

Downtown Development Authority Events Coordinator Jenna O’Dell said downtown Rochester’s small businesses help make the city a destination.

“Each business has its own niche and its own following,” she said. “Our business owners have good relationships and connections with the patrons that shop with them … so Small Business Saturday is really important to us to support and spread the word about our downtown.”

To learn more about Pine Tree Furniture and Lighting, 1405 S. Lapeer Road in Lake Orion, call (248) 693-6248 or visit www.pine
For more information about Piechnik’s Garden Gate, 1095 N. Rochester Road in Oakland Township, call (586) 336-7200 or visit
To learn more about Haig’s of Rochester, 311 S. Main St. in Rochester, call (248) 652-3660 or visit
Learn more about Small Business Saturday by visiting