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Caribou launches extended celebration of the city’s small businesses

CARIBOU, Maine — Though Small Business Saturday has already passed, fans of Caribou businesses still have a chance to support entrepreneurs and take part in a new version of the yearly celebration. 

In past years, shoppers had to visit all participating businesses on Small Business Saturday to receive free Caribou-themed ornaments and be entered to win prizes. But this time, the city has extended that shopping period through Friday, Dec. 9.

Shoppers have until 4 p.m. that day to pick up a list of businesses at Caribou Wellness & Recreation Center, have it stamped at each business and bring the results back to the Recreation Center for a chance to win a $1,000 shopping spree. 

They will also receive a free ornament at the Recreation Center instead of picking up multiple ornaments in a series, as in year’s past. This year’s ornament features a snow-covered Caribou statue at Lyndon Square, surrounded by the city’s Christmas tree and Downtown Mall, and was designed by Christina Kane-Gibson.

CARIBOU, Maine — November 26, 2022 — Tara Cassidy of Washburn (left) chats with Brambleberry Market owner Debbie Sutherland during a visit to the store on Small Business Saturday. (Melissa Lizotte | Aroostook Republican)

By extending the festivities beyond Small Business Saturday, the city hopes that people will have more time to shop, Parks & Recreation Superintendent Gary Marquis said.

“In the past, some people were just stopping in, picking up their ornaments and leaving,” Marquis said. “We’re trying to get more people shopping in the stores.”

As the morning of Small Business Saturday drew on, that idea seemed to be paying off for many local shops.

Debbie Sutherland, owner of Brambleberry Market in the Downtown Mall, said that her customers were pleased to have more time to browse products and chat with employees and friends.

“It’s giving them a chance to shop more in each place instead of going in and out quickly,” Sutherland said. “I thank the city for doing this every year because without support, small businesses wouldn’t be here.”

Small Business Saturday became a great way for Tara Cassidy to discover more of Caribou after moving to Washburn from North Carolina.

“I’ve been [to Brambleberry] before, but I’ve been able to find a lot of little shops that I didn’t know were here,” Cassidy said.

At Noyes Flower & Plant Shop at 11 Franklin St., owner Kimber Noyes and employees saw a steady stream of customers throughout Saturday.

Noyes has taken part in Small Business Saturday since the city’s first official celebration in 2017. With 2022 being the first post-pandemic holiday season, he was glad to see more people shopping in person.

“We had a lot of phone orders during COVID, so we haven’t seen some of these friendly faces in a while,” Noyes said. 

While browsing in the shop, Melinda Lagasse of New Sweden said that this is the first time she and her son Cullen, 11, have visited Caribou during Small Business Saturday.

“I’ve been to these businesses before, but I think this gives another good reason to shop local,” Lagasse said.

Back at the Recreation Center, Marquis said that he and staff had already given away around 200 business lists and ornaments out of 500 available. He encouraged more people to grab a list and start shopping.

“I think that after the pandemic, people are realizing how important it is to support their local businesses,” Marquis said. “And that’s what we want — to keep the money in Caribou.”

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