By Carla Zanoni
UPPER MANHATTAN — When Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the City’s participation in Small Business Saturday, an initiative modeled after post holiday shopping institutions like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, he said he hoped the day would “give the economy a big shot in the arm.”
But, the day before shoppers were being asked to shop at local mom and pop shops, local business improvement districts, chambers of commerce and elected officials in Upper Manhattan say they have never even heard of the program.
“Our office was not reached out to about Small Business Saturday and that’s odd because Councilman Jackson concentrates a lot of his attention on small business and has been involved in trying to revive the BID in our area,” said Juan Rosa, a spokesman for Councilman Robert Jackson.
Staff members from the 181st Street Business Improvement District, The Chamber of Commerce of Washington Heights and Inwood and the Audubon Partnership for Economic Development all said they had never heard of the program.
However, according to the Department of Small Business Services community groups throughout the five boroughs were contacted in early November.
“Following the launch, Commissioner [Rob] Walsh reached out to the Business Improvement District leadership across the city to inform them about Small Business Saturday and urge them to spread the word to businesses and residents in their communities,” SBS press secretary Sarah Krauss wrote in an email.
The Mayor’s Office did not immediately respond to calls for comment, but his Twitter feed had a reminder about the event.
“Tomorrow is Small Business Saturday. If you plan to shop, please support local small business,” it read Friday afternoon.
Officials from American Express, which is offering cardholders who sign up for the program a $25 credit on their statement when they make purchases at local non-chain stores that accept the card, did not return calls for comment either.
Amex also offered small businesses that sign up for the program $100 in free Facebook advertising.
More than one million people have also “liked” the initiative’s Facebook page nationwide.
Most Upper Manhattan small businesses that would be eligible for the incentive program that were contacted by DNAinfo said they were not aware of the program.
The owners of Hobby Land of Gifts at 4721 Broadway said they had never heard of the program, but hoped people would be inclined to pick up toys or art supplies at their store.
Anina Young, owner of Brazen Lingerie at 253 Dyckman Street, said she knew about the program after listening to a report about it on the radio and seeing the program’s Facebook page.
She said she hoped to see increased sales at her shop tomorrow, because of the program.
“I started telling people about it and nobody had heard of it,” she said. “It’s a shame. It’s a great program. I say go to the mall today, go crazy, but tomorrow shop locally.”