Anne Archer: "Small business Saturday" sweeps Manchester

MANCHESTER — Online retailers and big box stores have nothing on Manchester's local shops — especially during this year's Black Friday and Small Business Saturday.

Customer appreciation, unique merchandise and braised Mediterranean chicken with bergamot and basmati rice are just a few reasons why.

When it comes to appreciating their customers and supporting Manchester, few places can do it better than the Mountain Goat, an outdoor clothing and gear store.

On Black Friday, after asking people to, "spend an hour walking in nature, a few minutes gazing at the stars, or the day making a difference," Anne and Ron Houser, owners of the Mountain Goat, invited all those in Manchester to come to their store to celebrate their thirtieth year in business.

The evening celebration included refreshments and special promotions aimed at giving back to organizations who make a difference in Manchester's outdoor community.

But they weren't the only business celebrating.

Robin Lane Clothing, located on Elm Street in Manchester's Historic Depot District, was also having a good time.

On Small Business Saturday, Robin Lane — owner and designer of women's quality clothing created from natural, sustainable and organic fabrics — offered Prosecco, hors d'oeuvres, and biscotti made by Sticks and Stones Farm in Sunderland. Lane also advertised a thirty percent off appreciation sale as a way to let her clients know how thankful she is for their loyalty.

The weekend wasn't just about going from store to store, however.

Even non-shoppers were treated to a nice surprise on Small Business Saturday. After much anticipation and excitement, the Mystic Caf and Wine Bar, located in Factory Point, was open for lunch from 11 - 4 pm.

The special entr e for their first day of business was a braised Mediterranean chicken. The soup was Portuguese white bean and kale with chorizo and the special drink of the day was Puerto Rican hot chocolate.

As the Mystic Caf served up their delectabledishes, it also delivered a welcoming atmosphere: high ceilings, colorful pillows, an aroma of homemade cooking, and a ton of natural light thanks to the wall of windows. Sitting by these windows is where you wanted to be when a break was needed. The inviting location presented the perfect view for watching shoppers as they strolled the sidewalks of downtown Manchester; most carrying a bag or two in one hand and sipping a hot beverage from the Spiral Press in the other.

While some shops offered savings or extended their hours during the two-day shopping spree, other local retailers like Above All Vermont and The Hidden Jewel & Toys in the Attic, said it was business as usual. These specialty stores, which sell unique products at reasonable prices and provide excellent customer service while creating an inimitable experience, say they found no need to offer discounts.

Despite the decline in bricks and mortar retail stores and downtown shopping around the country, local Manchester businesses are working hard to reverse that trend in Southern Vermont. They offer stress-free shopping and dining which are both complete with enjoyable multi-sensory experiences, unique merchandise and quality customer service.

And that makes shopping in Manchester a thankful event.


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