By Joshua B. Milien and Nick Spennato
Three hundred shoppers visited the Village of Babylon’s shopping district Sunday for the third annual shopping crawl, a 20 percent increase from last year.
Hosted by the village’s Chamber of Commerce, the crawl featured a list of 30 participating businesses from the village’s shopping district all offering discounts.
“A big part of this is, also, a way to say thank you to the community, for supporting these small businesses all year long,” Jackie Didonato, Chamber of Commerce president and owner of Pandemonium Boutique, said.
The crawl was funded entirely, from the maps and tote bags given out at the start to the food, drink and raffle prizes at the wrap party by the participating businesses, incurring no cost to the crawlers outside of their shopping, Didonato said.
Shoppers were encouraged to visit as many businesses as possible, earning tickets to participate in a raffle at the event’s wrap party.
At the smallest level, the shopping crawl provides a boost to revenue on what would otherwise be a typical Sunday afternoon, Didonato said. Jeanne Capanelli, who has managed Babylon’s Torta Fina Bake Shoppe and Patisserie for the past seven years, noticed a distinct increase in sales over a typical business day.
On the larger scale, the shopping crawl helps introduce these businesses to customers they might not otherwise meet.
“At its core what it does is bring in people who’ve never come in before,” Kevin Murphy, who has owned and operated Murphy’s Sport Shack for over 30 years, said.
Those 300 attendees were made up of both regulars of the shopping district and people coming specifically for the crawl, Didonato said.
Events like the shopping crawl help keep people invested in shopping locally, rather than at larger retailers, Chamber of Commerce secretary Carol Aliperti said. The Chamber of Commerce organizes between eight and ten events like the shopping crawl a year.
Small businesses have been on the rise in the State of New York, with increases in employment and wages paid of 8 and 7 percent respectively from 2010 to 2015 and holding steadily since, according to a 2016 study by New York’s Empire State Development program.
Locally, support for small businesses within Babylon remain strong.
“The village’s support for small businesses is great. The challenge we’re having now is keeping the rents at a price where retailers and mom-and-pop shops can exist, as opposed to just professional offices,” Didonato said. “We want to make sure we keep this a walking village, and that’s why this event is so important.”
Some shoppers have made attending the shopping crawl a tradition where they support small businesses and get the jump on their holiday shopping.
“It’s something to do every year,” Jana Galler, a resident of North Babylon, said. “And it certainly doesn’t hurt the weather was so nice.”