Local businesses depend on local shoppers

Maddox Laurendeau and Shepperd Brown stock shelves at Northeast Harbor’s F.T. Brown Mercantile & Marine Chandlery Co.

MOUNT DESERT ISLAND — As the Saturday after Thanksgiving approaches, islanders are encouraged to support small businesses by shopping locally.  

The Saturday after Thanksgiving, also known as Small Business Saturday, may be a construct to encourage continued shopping, but, according to area business owners, shopping local is essential to their survival. 

Bar Harbor’s Island Artisans store manager Celeste Deeny agrees. 

“Locals know what it’s like to come to downtown Bar Harbor in the summertime, but once things slow down, they are excited to come back,” said Deeny.  

Her store, which sells crafts made by over 150 Maine artists, will be participating in The Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce’s Village Holiday’s Sale on Dec. 3 from 6-10 p.m. “We love to see locals come in and take time to shop around town for their Christmas presents,” she said. 

Kelly Brown of Northeast Harbor’s F.T. Brown Mercantile & Marine Chandlery Co. said her hardware store could not survive without local customers. 

 “A lot of people have this idea that the summer residents and the tourists are sufficient enough, but that doesn’t meet the needs of a year-round business. If we are to keep our doors open year-round, we need a year-round customer base,” she said. 

Since Brown and her husband took over managing the family business, their focus has been to help the year-round community. “We realized that we had to be competitive with prices and carry more things that the year-rounders were going to need,” said Brown.  

A large percentage of their business used to be summer residents and tourists, but that is changing. “Now our business is much closer to being 50 percent year-round and 50 percent summer residents,” Brown said. 

Due to national supply chain issues, Brown’s business, along with others in the community, has been struggling to meet the needs of its customers. Because of the inability to get certain goods, many customers have been trying different products. “It’s disheartening, but the good thing with the shortage now is that if Brown’s doesn’t have it, there’s a good chance that Amazon is not going to have it, or if it is on Amazon, people are going to pay a lot more,” she said. 

Shopping perks, like discounts, Brown said, bring in customers who might not otherwise go into her store. Through Nov. 27, the Main Street hardware store will offer 35 percent off on most of their inventory. Shoppers are encouraged to bring canned goods for the food pantry to receive an additional 5 percent off. 

Starting Black Friday and continuing through New Year’s Eve, Southwest Harbor’s Tom Cat Tide plans to welcome holiday shoppers to their new business. Co-owner Debi Estep said after the summer, her shop’s local clientele has increased drastically, prompting management to keep the store open a few days a week year-round for local shoppers. 

“It’s extremely important that locals support our business this time of year,” said Estep. 

Along with the opportunity to take advantage of discounts on Black Friday, Tom Cat Tide shoppers will also be able to enter a free drawing for a chance to win a $250 gift certificate. The drawing will be held in early December. The Clark Point Road store will also offer a sale between 50-75 percent off the entire week after Christmas.  

Ninah Rein

Ninah Rein

Writer at Mount Desert Islander
Ninah Rein, an MDI native, covers news and features in the Bar Harbor area. She is glad to be back in Maine after earning a bachelor's degree in San Diego from the University of California.

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