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The Yankee Express

Shop Small 01588 keeps Whitinsville business district in the game

Hillary Mellor, with Vicki Theisen, is new owner of The Flower Shop, at 110 Church St.

By Rod Lee
Downtown Whitinsville’s Church St. business district may not be the bustling center of commerce it once was, but the recently concluded 2021 version of Shop Small 01588 is a reminder that the potential is always there for a robust reawakening.
This sense was renewed again on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, as the community turned out in support of participating merchants, in the latest reenactment of Shop Small 01588, which debuted locally in 2014.
Best of all, this year’s Shop Small 01588 continued on through the following week—an expansion that coincided with sponsor American Express’ newly instituted push to make the concept of shopping small not just a seasonal one but a year-long initiative. In doing so, American Express was hoping to drive $100 million in reported Small Business Saturday consumer spending to local merchants this November, according to Forbes magazine.
For Hillary Mellor of The Flower Shop, 110 Church St., this year’s production of Shop Small 01588 was her first chance to experience the happening as a proprietor. Ms. Mellor is from the family that owns the Gray Barn on Elm Place in town.
“I bought the business in late July,” she said, on the morning of November 27. “I’ve added paint, new furniture, business has been better than I ever anticipated.”
The Flower Shop is one of a number of relatively new businesses that are making their mark on a street whose occupants continue to try and recapture the thoroughfare’s former spirit.
Another is Lulu’s, snuggled in a corner of the former Baker Department Store building. Known for its “fun, quirky gifts,” Lulu’s is not averse to advertising its merchandise as certain to satisfy the desire of even the most discriminating customer, whether the shopper is looking for “silly, sweary, snarky, spooky or sparkly.”
“Love your shop!” Joanne Lytle-Buckland Pereira says of Lulu’s.
In such establishments as FURiends Gourmet Pet Treats, The Crafty Nest DIY, The Daily Grind Barber Shop, The Green Plate, Family Karate Center, Katalina’s Boutique (on Providence Road, but always an active participant in Shop Small 01588) and Schotanus Design Center, Whitinsville’s business district maintains a healthy mix of enterprises that lend themselves to patronage during the holiday season—even as empty storefronts still exist.
In UniBank and the Whitin Community Center—two of the bigger players on the local marketplace scene—Shop Small 01588 has the underpinning it needs to continue to be a success.
In a survey conducted by Forbes, 78% of small businesses said holiday sales will undoubtedly impact their ability to continue operations in 2022. This will certainly apply to some of those businesses that signed up for Shop Small 01588.
American Express’ commitment to small business remains firm. As evidence of this, the company recently expanded its Shop Small Studio, which provides merchants with the opportunity to download posters, social media posts, signs and marketing materials. Also, American Express and Google have developed a partnership for the first time in order to help small businesses optimize their e-commerce capabilities. American Express touts this as part of a much bigger effort to engage Google’s platform as a way to help small merchants increase their digital footprint.
In Whitinsville on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, Amazon and FedEx and UPS delivery trucks were conspicuous, as they are night and day this time of year.
So too, however, were shoppers armed with “passports,” walking Church St.
Contact Rod Lee at [email protected] 
or 774-232-2999.