Gift Shop Owner: 'We Want To Stay In Business, I've Been Here 32 Years'

BABYLON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Thanksgiving is just days away, which means the kick-off of the holiday shopping season is also right around the corner.

Black Friday, when retailers historically move from deficit to profit for the year, will be followed up with Small Business Saturday, aimed at supporting local businesses.

But in some areas hard hit by Superstorm Sandy, store owners are concerned that their bottom lines will not go from red to black this year.

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In Babylon on Long Island, small shops are feeling the strain from two weeks of lost sales, storm-damaged products and buildings and customers dealing with personal crises and fewer discretionary dollars.

“If the village business district goes down, it affects the resale value of everybody’s homes. And we want to stay in business, I’ve been here 32 years,” Babylon gift shop owner Pat Turner told CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan.

Turner is now trying to recover from losing early bird shoppers and impulse purchasers during the storm and its aftermath, McLogan reported.

“Retailers in the local area are already two to three weeks behind and it will take a month or more for them to catch up,” said Marshal Cohen of the retail marketing firm NPD Group. “There will be some extra better deals in our immediate area, absolutely yes, as retailers are managing inventories. This is a science that they use.”

Turner said she will offer services that only small businesses can provide to try to bring in customers on Small Business Saturday.

“I think the best thing that we have going for us is our customer service, our free gift wrapping, which is almost unheard of in a large box store,” she told CBS 2’s McLogan.

Turner will also offer deep discounts to try to compete with the larger stores, in addition to the freebies she plans to offer, McLogan reported.

The store owner also plans to donate a portion of the profits to the local Rotary Club’s hurricane relief.

Locals said they plan to support small businesses this weekend.

“All the stores have things on the sidewalk and the whole community comes out here to enjoy the festivities,” Babylon shopper Jodi Gangloff-Kaufmann told CBS 2’s McLogan.

“They live nearby, always take care of you, extend their hours for you. And they are part of the community,” Babylon resident Jack Scott added.

The Long Island Association, the island’s largest business group, predicted Saturday deals will be dramatic.

The organization said if shoppers don’t support the little retailer, especially those who suffered storm damage and have little access to credit, some stores could go out of business.

Before Sandy hit, Long Island merchants hoped for a nearly 4-point holiday sales surge over last year, but now the prediction has dropped to 2.8 percent, McLogan reported.

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