Your guide to Small Business Saturday and holiday events
Since first launched by American Express in 2010, Small Business Saturday has become a household name, with Main Street organizations and shops encouraging people to keep their money in the local economy.
The weekend after Thanksgiving also serves as an unofficial kickoff of the winter holiday season, with tree lightings and other Christmas-oriented events. Here’s a roundup of what’s happening in the region.
Before Saturday, though, is Merry Days & Jolly Nights in New London on Friday, with the tree lighting at Parade Plaza at 5 p.m. followed by music and dance performances and a meet and greet with Santa and Mrs. Claus.
Returning this year is what became a major regional attraction when it began last year: the Stonington Lobster Trap Tree at Stonington Town Docks, the brainchild of Lisa Konicki of the Ocean Community Chamber of Commerce. The tree lighting takes place Saturday at 4:30 p.m., and it will be lit every night from 4:30 to 9:30 p.m. until Jan. 15.
From Saturday to Dec. 31, the Stonington Borough Merchants Association is holding a Find the Buoy Holiday Scavenger Hunt. To participate, people can pick up a postcard at the Stonington Free Library or other participating locations, get the postcard stamped at all 18 locations, and drop the postcard off by Dec. 31. The list of participating locations is available at stoningtonboroughct.com/find-the-buoy.
The four prizes are gift cards worth $950, a week of half-day camp at New England Science & Sailing, a sterling silver buoy charm and necklace, and membership to the Stonington Historical Society plus four tickets to a La Grua Center concert.
The Velvet Mill is holding Velvet Christmas at the Mill Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. with local vendors, free pictures with Santa, face painting, raffles and live music.
Bali Bungalow is running its Black Friday sale through Sunday, with 20% off in-store and online with the code BLACKFRIDAY20, and Fun and Funky Vintage is offering 20% off vintage fabrics and curtains. Through Wednesday, people who purchase two or more bottles of beer at Beer’d Brewing Company can get $2 off per beer.
In downtown Mystic, Santa arrives by tugboat at Mystic River Park at 2 p.m. and visits with children until 4 p.m. The Christmas tree lighting is at 6 p.m., followed by the Holiday Lighted Boat Parade.
Rochelle’s Boutiques is offering 20% off in-store and online with the code SAVE20, online orders at Peppergrass & Tulip are 20% off through Monday, and Mystic Knotwork will provide free shipping on orders over $50 through Monday.
Olde Mistick Village is also participating in Small Business Saturday, and Santa will be greeting children in the Chapel Meeting House from 12 to 3 p.m. The Holiday Lights Spectacular is also ongoing.
The Niantic Holiday Stroll returns Saturday for its 19th year. The complimentary trolley runs from 12 to 6 p.m., and holiday characters will roam throughout the day. The Walsh Waffle Wagon, Whisktopia and Short Rib Café food trucks will be at Pro Tek Auto from 3 to 7 p.m.
At Liberty Green ― Main Street and Pennsylvania Avenue ― during this time will be a DJ and reindeer games, a coloring contest and hot chocolate. The tree lighting will happen here at 5 p.m., following by visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus.
According to Niantic Main Street’s guide, deals include group classes and 50% off gift certificates at Arthur Murray Dance Studio, 20% off purchases at Grace, 15% off purchases at Azalea, 15% off Grab & Go and retail items at La Belle Aurore, 20% off one item at Bayberries, 15% off a $25 or more purchase at Tumbleweeds, and more.
There will also be s’mores at Berkshire Hathaway and Niantic Yoga, complimentary gingerbread cookie decorating while supplies last at Past to Present Auctions, and a scavenger hunt for kids at Smith’s Acres.
Kids can also get a prize for finding five of the mermaid elves hidden in shop windows.
Elsewhere in the region
The Greater Norwich Area Chamber of Commerce is holding its annual holiday bazaar at Holiday Inn Norwich from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., with more than 70 vendors. Items for sale include home décor, goat milk soaps, crocheted items, fine art photography, and wooden toys and puzzles.
Groton Inn and Suites is holding a vendor shopping market from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., with Santa photos, kids’ activities, food and more.
Some places to donate toys and more
- Downtown Mystic ― The Pawcatuck Neighborhood Center is collecting donations of unwrapped toys
- 30 Broadway Ave., Mystic ― Taquerio is holding its first Toys for Tacos toy drive, starting Saturday at noon and running through Dec. 20
- 24 Pennsylvania Ave., Niantic ― William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty is holding a Toys for Tots drive
- 278 Main St., Niantic ― East Lyme Police Department is holding its annual Stuff-a-Cruiser Toy Drive from 3 to 7 p.m. and is accepting new, unwrapped toys and gifts for Care & Share of East Lyme
- 334 Main St., Niantic ― LJ Shoreline Realty is holding a pet food supply drive for the Connecticut Humane Society
- 220 Salem Turnpike, Norwich ― Mohegan Fire Company is holding its annual toy drive at the Norwich Walmart from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.