CRANFORD, NJ – Downtown Cranford’s local merchants offered deals, promotions and treats to celebrate Small Business Saturday this weekend.

Small Business Saturday was launched by American Express in 2010 to bring more revenue to small, local stores that were affected by the recession. In Cranford, where local stores and restaurants line the streets, shoppers had the opportunity to purchase clothing, jewelry, food and more.

“It’s definitely our busiest day of the year,” Cori Eberling, owner of ANTHEM style + gift, said. “If you don’t support the local business in your community, they’re not going to last very long. If you appreciate them, you should support them all year long.”

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Elaine Moffett, owner of Periwinkle’s Fine Gifts, said the day is a nice way to give back to businesses that support the community.

“We give back to the community all year long and it’s a nice reason to have a shop small day for the brick and mortar, mom and pop stores,” Moffett said. “It’s nice to see the community support us back.”

Kevin Castor, co-owner of A La Mode Creamery, agreed.

“We just started serving breakfast a week and a half ago and we had a lot of new people come in to try it out today,” Castor said. “A lot of the owners around here help out the community and donate or support different causes. We give back to the town and it’s nice to see that customers care for us too. It’s a hand-in-hand thing.”

The community support is key to Margaret Sacco, owner of Milk Money.

“We’ve had a much busier day than normal and most costumers say it’s because of Small Business Saturday,” Sacco said. “It’s very hard for local business people to sustain a business. We give back to the community and it’s important for the community to support businesses as well."

Many business owners emphasized the importance of small business, as opposed to national or international chains.

“It’s important to shop local to keep small business alive,” Gary Fletcher, owner of Simply…, said.

Mario Haddad, owner of Golden Touch Jewelers, highlighted the relationship between small business owners and the townspeople.

“There’s more customers walking around,” Haddad said. “It’s been busy. Shopping local means a better connection with the owner and a relationship that’s more than business. They build a relationship with the retailer, trust the business and come back.”

Only one businesses owner interviewed did not see a boom in customers on Small Business Saturday.

“I’m usually busier, but it’s because it’s right after Thanksgiving,” Cathy Vastola, owner of Breadsmith, said. “This week we were really busy. Wednesday was nuts, you couldn’t get near the place. If it was a different weekend, this type of business would be busier.”

Vastola also emphasized the important of shopping and dining locally.

“Shopping local keeps the town going and it brings people in, pays the bills and keeps the town vibrant,” Vastola said. “The town is the people and the people are the businesses.”