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Maine small businesses seeing much-needed holiday shopping boost

The Maine Chamber of Commerce said signs point to a favorable holiday season for the Pine Tree State's small businesses.

MAINE, Maine — Small businesses are Maine's economic backbone. Eighty percent of businesses in Maine employ fewer than 20 people.

Nov. 27 is 'Small Business Saturday,' when people are encouraged to shop from small businesses. That said, business owners across the state said they hope people think of every day as an opportunity to shop small.

For retail businesses, in particular, the holiday shopping season is crucial to their bottom line. That's the case for Ingrid Perkins, who owns 'Ingrid's German Gift Shop' in Bangor.

"The holidays make a big difference because... most of my income each year is Christmas," said Perkins.

Perkins is the store's lone employee. For 45 years, she's been selling an array of gifts imported from Europe.

"I have to say my customers are very supportive, and I do appreciate that because as a small business, it's hard sometimes. But I'm very happy with the results so far," Perkins said. 

So far, this holiday season appears promising for small businesses. Maine Chamber of Commerce President Dana Connors said most business owners he's been speaking with report favorable sales. 

"When it comes to shopping and sales, so far evidence shows they're doing quite well," Connors said. 

However, Connors said patience may be required this holiday season because businesses continue to face a nationwide worker shortage. 

"The worker shortage could have an impact on the number of cashiers at a store or restaurant staff," Connors said. 

Another small business that's excited about the holiday boost is Maine Craft Portland, a storefront extension of the Maine Crafts Association. 

"It's probably the most exciting time of year for all of our artists," Store Manager Maria Wolff said. The store showcases the work of more than 200 Maine artists, according to Wolff. 

Wolff said their Maine-made items make for sentimental gifting. 

"Everything is really thoughtfully made, and I think when you're gifting something like that, you really feel it," she said.

When shopping small, consumers may think beyond retail businesses, too.

Many of Maine's 160+ craft breweries and 3,000+ restaurants offer gift cards.

Dylan Gardner, owner of Portland's Nura, said, "I think there's nothing better than supporting your local businesses on Small Business Saturday, or even in the weeks after, coming into a busy holiday season."

It's also possible to gift experiences or activities. In Boothbay, 'Carefree Boat Club' is offering sizable black Friday deals.

Owner Edward Bernard said gifting experiences, particularly ones the entire family can enjoy, is always a good idea. "You can't fit a boat under a tree," Bernard said. "But you can fit a Carefree Boat Club membership!"

🥳🦃BLACK FRIDAY Boothbay Harbor has been the biggest blessing for our family this year and Carefree Boat Club of Maine is...

Posted by Carefree Boat Club - Boothbay Harbor on Saturday, November 20, 2021

Still need a gift idea? NEWS CENTER Maine's media affiliate, the Portland Press Herald, will have a 48-page local gift guide stuffed into the Nov. 24 edition of its newspaper.

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