CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. – Many Chappaqua residents personally embraced the downtown’s “Shop Local” slogan over the holiday season. Former President Bill Clinton was no exception.
“President Clinton came in here on Christmas Eve,” said Eve Spence, owner of the Auntie Penny toy store. “He bought two Jingle Bell Elmos and two giant TY Beanie Ballz.”
Spence says Clinton was one among many who showed extra support to local businesses over the past couple of months.
“We were overjoyed by the amount of support we received,” she said. “In fact, I don’t think I can sufficiently express our gratitude. It was that good.”
Spence suggested the current abundance of community spirit stems from a combination of things, including the changes Chappaqua Chambers of Commerce have implemented and the “rough stuff” that happened prior to Christmas, including the Hurricane Sandy and Newtown, Conn., tragedies.
“I think both locally and nationally people have come together a little bit,” she said. “You can see it. Feel it.”
Scott Mikolay, co-owner of the jewelry store Desires by Mikolay, has also noticed things moving in the right direction.
“We met our sales expectations for sure. We actually went above them,” he said. “I think the downtown area is on the verge of being really great, and a lot of that comes from the town working with the merchants.”
Mikolay noted parking changes and the new bridge as two factors that have increased sales traffic.
“The ease of travel for customers is what it’s all about,” he said.
While community spirit and traffic adjustments have brought in more customers, it is the intimacy of customer service found in local businesses that keeps them coming back for more.
“People love to shop local,” said Eileen Josefs, an employee of women’s fashion store Petticoat Lane. “We carry what we know our customers need and want. We had a very good holiday season because of it.”
Chappaqua resident Joyce Meiklejohn echoed Josefs’ assessment.
“Local stores are edited to the customers they serve. They can pull certain items, order specific things,” she said. “When you’re looking for personal gifts for loved ones, that is what you’re looking for.”