Area shops take part in Small Business Saturday

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Cumberland Times-News, Matthew Bieniek

November 23, 2012

CUMBERLAND — Today is the day anyone can make a difference in the community. By patronizing small businesses, money is staying in the community and keeping local mom-and-pop stores vibrant.

“Local merchants offer shoppers a small-town, holiday feeling,” said Lee Schwartz, the co-owner of The Book Center in Cumberland.

“If you lose the local stores, you lose a lot of the flavor of a community,” said Schwartz.

One visitor Friday said she was very impressed by the flavor of the community.

“I’ve never been here. ... I love all the shops and the interesting people running them,” said Evelyn Frattaroli, who hails from the Pittsburgh area. She was visiting with family members, including her daughter who lives in?North Carolina.

“With local support, you can turn things around,” said Frattaroli, referring to the economy.

The Book Center can pretty much order any book out there and even arrange to have it delivered to your door, just like online merchants.

And small businesses offer the personalized service that can’t be found at big-box stores, Schwartz said.

“That’s one of the reasons we’re successful; we offer a variety of fresh-made coffee and foods,” said Mark Rose of Cafe Mark and Jennifer’s Desserts, a downtown fixture that celebrated its eighth anniversary in October.

“We have coffees from every part of the world,” Rose said. Customers keep coming back, Rose said, including a couple from Boston who make it a point to stop in every year.

There’s also a steady stream of local people, he said.

Rose said he estimated his customers are divided about 50-50 between local people and visitors.

Atmosphere is important, Rose said. “We worked on that from the first. ... We wanted to give people the feeling that they’re in Georgetown,” he said.

About 30 businesses in Cumberland are officially participating in Small Business Saturday, which was initially promoted by American Express. Special offers are made by American Express to shoppers who patronize qualifying businesses.

Downtown Manager Ed Mullaney said Saturday is just the beginning of a series of events to promote local shopping.

On Dec. 13, Midnight Madness will return to Cumberland, with many stores and restaurants throughout the downtown area staying open until midnight.

“This community turned out to support mom-and-pop businesses,” Mullaney said, reflecting on last year’s Midnight Madness event.

When people shop at locally owned businesses, 68 cents of every dollar stays in town, compared to 46 cents for chain stores operating locally and zero for online sales, he said.

For more information, visit:? Shop-Small/

Contact Matthew Bieniek at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .