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Small Business Saturday deemed a success in downtown Metuchen

Staff Writer

METUCHEN — Small Business Saturday was a success for the downtown businesses during the start of the holiday season.

“We reorganized Small Business Saturday as a retail promotion-focused event like [the annual Metuchen Country Fair], and borough businesses had their best day ever,” said Eric Berger, chairman of the Metuchen Downtown Alliance (MDA), during the “Main Street Minute” addressed to the Borough Council at its Dec. 5 meeting.

American Express originated Small Business Saturday seven years ago to encourage shoppers to “shop small” at local businesses the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

More than 20 stores and restaurants in downtown Metuchen participated in Small Business Saturday.

Linda Koskoski, who will serve her first term on the Borough Council in January and is the co-owner of Marafiki Fair Trade, said her business has participated in Small Business Saturday for five years.

“This was by far the best by 45 percent,” she said. “[That percentage] was the increase in sales over our best Small Shop Saturday. That is a significant increase directly related to the alliance.”

Koskoski and Deborah Zupan, who are co-owners of Marafiki, which features Fair Trade products, opened a storefront business on New Street in 2011; however, they had to close it in February. They have remained an online business.

With the support of the MDA, which formed in August, Koskoski and Zupan were able to re-open Marafiki as a pop-up shop at 463 Main St. for November and December.

During the Small Business Saturday, Marafiki served as the site for an after-hours party after a long day of shopping.

Koskoski said she informally asked people where they were from as they came by.

“A lot of people were not from town,” she said. “I don’t know how Isaac [Kremer, executive director of MDA] promoted shop small, but it was the best ever.”

Through the end of the year, there will be free three-hour parking at the Pearl Street parking garage every Saturday.

The MDA operates independently as a nonprofit 501c3 organization formed under the auspices of Main Street, NJ, part of the National Trust of Historic Preservation, sponsoring Main Street America.

The district area, which consists of only commercial businesses and/or commercial businesses with residential units, includes the Metuchen SportsPlex on Durham Avenue down Middlesex Avenue with the new development to Main Street and Amboy Avenue.

For more information, visit www.downtownmetuchen.org.

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