Finding a ‘neighborhood feel’ at local stores on Small Business Saturday
CAMBRIDGE — On the hunt for treasure, Gerald Fusco eyed the shelf of LPs for sale inside Stereo Jack’s Records Saturday morning.
The Medford resident is a Beatles fan, and an electronic copy of the band’s music would not do — Fusco wanted vinyl.
You can buy a record online, he said, but holding it in your hand is the only way to know its condition. Plus, he enjoys the personal connection in visiting the Massachusetts Avenue store, opened by Jack Woker in 1982.
And then he struck gold: Satisfied, he pulled a copy of the Beatles album “Revolver” from the rack and put it aside.
“Sometimes he has a nugget that I like,” Fusco said.
Fusco was among the many customers who shopped across the country during Small Business Saturday, a national effort to encourage people to patronize local stores at the start of the holiday season.
American Express started Small Business Saturday in 2010, and this year, about 7,500 local community groups and business associations across the country were expected to participate in the event, according to a company statement posted to its website.
Jon Hurst, president of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts, said Small Business Saturday has grown in importance in recent years as consumers have become increasingly aware “that they need to shop like jobs depend on it, because they do.”
Hurst said in an e-mail that consumers can shop anywhere online with their smartphones.
“But with consumers representing 70 percent of the economy, where and how they [spend] their dollars has a direct impact on the local economy,” Hurst said. “Small Business Saturday has raised awareness of that fact. The key is how dollars will be spent the remainder of the season, and indeed throughout the year.”
In Roslindale’s Adams Square, Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh called on hundreds of people gathered Saturday afternoon for a holiday tree-lighting ceremony to patronize some of the city’s small businesses.
“We’re not going to have businesses come to our neighborhood if we don’t support them in our community,” Walsh told the crowd.
Earlier in the day in Cambridge, Woker said most of his customers at Stereo Jack’s Records are from the Boston area. They shop for vinyl at his store, he said, because they like the sound of records better than a CD or download.
“They like the idea of the record, it’s a more visceral thing you can hold in your hand . . . you don’t get that with Spotify or iTunes,” Woker said.
Woker opened up his shop in 1982 in Cambridge before the store moved a few doors down to its current Massachusetts Avenue location in 1993.
Woker’s store has weathered many changes in the music industry. He started selling records and cassette tapes, then switched to compact discs when their promise of digital perfection became popular with consumers.
Now, in an era where an entire music library can fit on a phone, Woker sells vinyl.
And there’s opportunity for serendipity in a store.
Fusco, while shopping in the store, found a copy of “No Dice,” the album by the Welsh group Badfinger.
“They have Badfinger,” Fusco said, the LP in his hand. “I’ve never seen them anywhere.”
A short distance away at Abodeon, owner Dale Anderson said his customers are drawn to his store by the variety of his stock and the chance to see it firsthand.
The store, which opened 21 years ago, specializes in mid-century furniture and home decorations.
He picked up an oval bowl made by the manufacturer Dansk in 1954 — from wood stained a deep red-brown — and held it up for inspection.
“You can tell the condition of this by picking this up and turning it over . . . you can’t tell the condition by looking at a picture on a computer,” he said.
Katie Lapp of Cambridge said she has shopped at the store for several years and wanted to support it on Small Business Saturday.
“Here you find things you never have heard of before,” Lapp said of Abodeon.
Deb Colburn, the owner of Nomad, said stores like hers support their communities — she hires local people, and they spend their money at area restaurants and other businesses.
Her store sells clothing, jewelry, and other items made by artisans working locally and from around the world, she said.
Nomad has been in business since 1990 and in Cambridge for the past 22 years, Colburn said. It relocated to its present Massachusetts Avenue location in March, she said.
“We are lucky to be in an environment that honors local business,” Colburn said.
Ann Meyers of Cambridge shopped at Nomad and Abodeon Saturday morning. She wants to help businesses like these remain open — plus, she enjoys shopping in the small, local stores, she said.
“There’s a neighborhood feel, that’s for sure,” she said.