LITTLE FALLS, NJ – As a difficult year draws to a close, the business community in Little Falls is determined to shine brightly.

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on many businesses and will make the upcoming holiday shopping season more important this year than in the past. In hopes of drawing shoppers into the business district – and raise the spirits of local shop owners – LittleFallsBiz is adding some shimmer and shine to the downtown by decorating trees with glittering solar lights. 

The local business association is also asking merchants, professionals and restaurants to put lights in their storefronts to help “Light Up The Town.” “This will give a more festive feel during what looks like may be a very hard holiday season,” Karen Winick, the business association’s president, said.

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LittleFallsBiz is poised to kick off an initiative encouraging people to spend money locally this season.The “Shop Local” campaign aims to put a spotlight on the independent businesses located in Little Falls and urge the community to shop small, dine local and show some support to Main Street.

Over the past several months, social distancing requirements, mandated closures and other safety measures have prompted many to shop online instead of at brick and mortar shops.

Since the onset of the outbreak, Winick said local stores have generally seen a decline in traffic, and at least three closures, including 2Sweet, Eclectic Flair and Albert John Hair Salon. “Restaurants in particular, especially with the weather getting colder, outdoor dining will be difficult,” she said.

But, local businesses are doing their best to bounce back and keep their doors – safely – open.

Restaurants have pivoted to running curbside pick-up and expanded delivery services and many businesses, like Iris Mind & Body and Pencilworks Studios, offer virtual classes.

The campaign’s launch coincides with Small Business Saturday. “If you can buy it local, skip Amazon!” said Winick, adding that there are “a wide variety of businesses and restaurants in town.”

Rhonda Mallek, owner of The Fine Grind, said, “’Shop Small’ means more this holiday season that ever before.”

“People need to understand that it isn’t just an expression to share on social media. This pandemic has affected family-owned local businesses in a very real way – many have closed and many are struggling,” she said, “if we all don’t make a conscious decision to spend money at local businesses, they are not going to make in through these tough economic times,” Mallek said.

And while the holiday season will undoubtedly be different in 2020, LittleFallsBiz has worked with other groups in town to revamp the traditional events into safe – and fun – celebrations for local families.

“Since we cannot have ‘Breakfast with Santa’ this year, we will be distributing to the kids approximately 200 shopping bags fill of holiday goodies which will include a list of all the holiday shopping offers in town for the adults, a kids holiday face mask, food for the reindeer, package cookies, a package of hot chocolate and any giveaways donated,” Winick said. The association and public library are also co-sponsoring a gingerbread house contest virtually. Since this year’s Fall Festival could not go on as planned, the association handed out free pumpkins with a goody bag to local youngsters, she said.

“Many of the businesses either sponsored or contributed something to the bag, which was a good way to promote the business to parents,” Winick said. Due to the pandemic, the association has waived membership fees for its 35 members and has made an effort to reach out to businesses to see if they need help or want to be included in any
advertising opportunities.

“Hopefully, when we all get back to some kind of normal, we will start a membership drive,” Winick said.

Local business owners who are interested in having their holiday deals and services spotlighted on the association’s social media pages can contact littlefallsbiz.org@gmail.com