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Sewickley businesses prep for Small Business Saturday

| Friday, Nov. 17, 2017, 11:00 p.m.

Instead of hitting the malls on Black Friday, shop local in Sewickley — that's the message local retailers are hoping shoppers follow.

The Sewickley Valley Chamber of Commerce is urging consumers to “Shop Small and Forget the Malls” after Thanksgiving by visiting the business district.

“You really don't need to go and fight the crowds at a Target or at Ross Park Mall because everything you buy on Black Friday can be found in Sewickley,” says Brigitte Nguyen, president of the Sewickley Valley Chamber of Commerce.

In the past, retailers have done their own Black Friday and Small Business Saturday campaigns, and this year Nguyen wanted the entire business district to participate.

In July, the chamber launched a Christmas in July event in which 35 stores and restaurants participated. Those participating saw a 25-percent to 30-percent increase in business, she said.

With that proven success, the chamber wanted to do it again during the holiday shopping season.

During the weekend after Thanksgiving, the chamber also will offer shoppers the chance to win Sewickley gift cards ranging in value from $250 to $1,000 if they purchase from five Sewickley businesses or more. Shoppers also will see food trucks on Black Friday.

Explore Sewickley, a nonprofit with a mission of marketing the business district, also is doing its work to promote the local businesses in Sewickley by holding various events throughout the year, including Yuletide in Sewickley — the overall theme of December. It kicks off Dec. 1 with Light Up Night.

“Shopping local is about creating an experience: being present during the holiday season and enjoying time with family and friends, and this is something Sewickley does well,” says Alexandra Lancianese, marketing director of Explore Sewickley. “It's so much more meaningful to find something cool in a local or independently-owned business than buying something random on Amazon.”

At Three Dogs Bakery, owner Maggie Kopf already has begun preparing for the busy shopping season, baking treats and creating grab-and-go treat bags. She says last year was crazy and she was pulling baked dog treats right out of the oven and into customer's bags.

Since Sewickley Light Up Night is one of her busiest nights with the store jam-packed with families, she'll definitely have plenty to choose from this year.

Also taking part is the Tull Family Theater, which is planning a sing-along version of “The Sound of Music” for Nov. 24.

Executive Director Carolina Pais-Barreto Thor says people are excited for the sing-along event — so much so that moviegoers have been heard singing to the trailers during the current movie offerings.

Sarah Sudar is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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