Pine Island's first ever "Small Business Saturday" kicked off early in the day under sunny skies and cool winter breezes.
The Saturday after Thanksgiving was earmarked as "Small Business Saturday" by American Express company in 2010 to remind communities to unite behind their local businesses and support them by shopping "small" which ultimately makes "local" communities thrive.
"I am thrilled with the turnout," Olde Florida Outpost owner Heather Swartz said. "We were scheduled to open at 10 a.m. but opened an hour early because people were waiting. I was aware that American Express does this every year so as the campaign host, I wrote an essay telling them why we should be accepted. They decided we should be included and sent us all of the materials."
Mel Meo’s studio.
Olde Florida Outpost was the "Welcome Station" that provided islanders a "Things to Do Map" and a canvas shopping bag stuffed with coupons and announcements for the other participating businesses.
The all-day Saturday event included a $250 shopping spree at Olde Florida Outpost, free mini classes and free memberships at Island Girl Fitness and from Island Yoga of Pine Island, an Arts & Crafts Fair at Island Conclave Fine Art Gallery, $15 gift certificates from Bert's Pine Bay Gallery, a free gift with the purchase of $50 or more at Island Visions, Mel Meo Studio cooked up some smoked mullet, Sweeney's SOS raffled off a $50 gift basket, and Artist Rachi Farrow exhibited her brand new Rolling Wonder Clean Water Gallery at Olde Florida Outpost.
Island Conclave celebrated with its very first Arts & Crafts Fair with 12 outside vendors, in addition to the collection of gallery artists indoors. The selection of vendors included jewelry makers, painters, recycled metal wind vanes and metal work, photography, Henna tattoos, hand-painted palms of tropical fish and mermaids, handcrafted painted carved wood, holiday crafts and handmade clothing.
Holloway's BBQ was also on hand to feed hungry gallery and craft-goers. Island Conclave also sold a piece of a framed Grace Kelly Tattinger Vintage print. The proceeds went to the "Beacon of HOPE."
"This is a great idea and especially good for all of the small businesses on the island," Swartz said. "I am thrilled American Express accepted us and I hope to do many more of these in coming years.