Strong sales were reported at small businesses throughout Ashtabula County during Small Business Saturday.

"We had a fantastic Black Friday," said Aric Anderson, owner of Furniture Towne on Main Avenue in Ashtabula.

He said he did a lot of buying earlier this year and it is paying off as furniture has become hard to come by due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"I still have product to sell," he said. Anderson said the selling continued on Saturday.

"I sold three items," this morning (he said around 10:15 a.m. Saturday.

The Ashtabula Downtown Development Association and the Lift Bridge Community Association both had to scale back promotions that have occurred in the past due to the pandemic.

Jennifer Luhta, owner of Halcyon and chairwoman of the LBCA, said a physical central location to coordinate shopping bargains was not allowed on Bridge Street this year because of the virus. She said shoppers were able to text their receipts into a central location to become eligible for a raffle that distributed gift cards from shops in Ashtabula Harbor.

"[Friday] wasn't too bad, but nothing like last year. We are plugging along," Luhta said while putting up signs encouraging shoppers to patronize small businesses.

Made in Ohio owner Bart Cumberland said his business had a good Black Friday.

"It has been good. I think people want to get out of their houses," he said.

Cumberland said Black Friday sales were a little above last year and he hopes to maintain last year's sales totals throughout the Christmas season.

 At Christmas World, located in Saybrook Township, owner Debi Rosati-Mead said it was a great start to the holiday shopping season.

"It's been great. Everyone has been following the rules," she said. "[Friday] was unbelievable. I think everybody is looking for the happy experience," 

Melissa O'Connell, owner of Catherine's Christmas in Geneva, said shopping has been steady. She said the store opened in August and will close the end of December.

"They seem to be more to the sentimental things that cheer them up. Many are shopping early because they don't know what's going to happen [with the virus]," O'Connell said.

She views her relationship with customers as a two-way street.

"We are actually working together," O'Connell said.

Significant sales help the customers and help her keep the doors open, O' Connell said of the challenges that occur during a pandemic.

The pandemic has also forced the shop to be more technologically available. She said a new Facebook page and website assist in sales and employees are providing a new service.

She said her "elves" get possible items customers may be interested in over the phone then take cell phone pictures of the items so customers can make an informed decision.


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