By Gabriela Resto-Montero
SOHO — The city-approved "Small Business Saturday" promotion over the weekend was supposed to give local shops a boost amid the Black Friday hype. But in SoHo and Greenwich Village, the majority of stores said they didn't see any difference in sales.
"I guess it's not helpful because nobody has mentioned it," said Keven Dakinah, manager of the Wool and the Gang shop on Thompson Street between Spring and Prince Streets, which nevertheless had a "Small Business Saturday" sign hanging in the front door.
The event, which had Mayor Michael Bloomberg's blessing, encouraged customers to shop at local stores on Nov. 27 by providing up to $25 in credit on their American Express statements.
Small businesses with an annual profit of less than $10 million who have an account with American Express were eligible for the program.
Shopowners complained that the promotion for the initiative, which also included $100 worth of free advertising on the "Small Business Saturday" Facebook page, was aimed mostly at customers and not owners.
"I saw it on Facebook and I felt like there wasn't any explicit information, it was very strange," Dakinah added.
Managers at the vintage clothing store Flying A, on Spring Street between Thompson and West Broadway, hadn't even heard of Small Business Saturday. They suggested a different way for the city to help local stores get in the black: by regulating retail rent prices in SoHo.
"Every time a small shop closes, they open up a corporate store," said Diana Oh, manager of Flying A.
"The only people that can afford it are the big stores," Oh said of her block.
Some business owners said they'd be a lot better off if Albany renewed their sales tax exemption on purchases under $110, as had been the case until last month. The 4.3 percent tax went back into effect on Oct. 1.
"If they could bring that back, it could help out," said Murray Newmark, owner of the Stylish Shoe store on West Eighth Street in Greenwich Village.
The Small Business Saturday program had one defender — Elise Perelman, owner of Lunessa Designer Jewelry on Thompson Street. Perelman said customers looking to take advantage of the incentive poured into her store Saturday.
"We've definitely had extra shopping," said Perelman, who opened the store three years ago."Any kind of promotion is helpful."
American Express is extending the $25 credit incentive through Dec. 31.