Orange County

‘Heart of the community’: Small Business Saturday helps vendors during post-pandemic, inflation

COLLEGE PARK, Fla. — It’s the season for holiday spending.

Saturday marks Small Business Saturday, the day after Black Friday that focuses on buying from vendors in the community.


A recent survey found that 80% of small businesses said that this holiday season is more important to their overall financial picture than last year.

In Orange County, people are trying to promote small businesses, which are still struggling post-pandemic.

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But in College Park, support for small businesses is a top priority. Vendors in Albert Park were brought to the area for exposure and had a tree-lighting event to attract more visitors.

Bijou’s Boutique on Edgewater Drive enjoyed steady business. Employee Wendy Sarcinella said the turnout is a relief, as small businesses make up the community.

“The small businesses are the heart of the community, and without small businesses, College Park and other small towns wouldn’t have the flavor and the atmosphere that it currently has,” she said.

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Amelia Harrison, the executive director of College Park Main Street, agreed that small businesses are a cornerstone of the area, even with its challenges.

“This year has definitely been a struggle to get back in after COVID and stores being closed,” she said. “It’s affecting all of the small businesses no matter what Main Street direction you’re in.”

Harrison said the pandemic created big problems for mom-and-pop shops, because people needed things from stores like Walmart, Amazon and Home Depot - the stores that were allowed to stay open.

Record high inflation levels came immediately after those forced shutdowns began, leading people to take a second look at their spending habits.

“I think people are more aware of the fact that small businesses are still here,” Sarcinella said. “And it’s harder, but we’re still here, trying to serve the public.”

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Experts said that inflation may actually boost small businesses in some ways.

According to a recent survey by, this year, nearly 60% of Americans said they will shop on Small Business Saturday, more than the number of people who plan to shop on Black Friday.

Sarcinella said buying at one small business could benefit the whole block.

“We tell customers about each other,” she said. “They’ll say, ‘What’s a good place to eat?’ and we’ll say ‘Hey, try up the street, two doors down.’ We share in the wealth. "

Economists said that means more holiday shoppers want to invest in their city’s economy.

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