For small-business owners, the little things, including smiling, making eye contact and attending to detail pay off by making big impressions.

For Matt DuBois, who co-owns The Bankery in Skowhegan, doing things right means starting from scratch.

“It’s a mind-set we have,” he said.

That mind-set helps produce delectable cinnamon buns, croissants and European pastries, as well as friendships.

“I like making people happy,” said DuBois, who also co-owns the adjoining Skowhegan Fleurist and Formalwear on Water Street. “I know that sounds corny, but seeing the regular customers is what I enjoy.”

Because of his 80-hour workweeks, DuBois has plenty of time to catch up with clients who routinely make their way in to buy cakes, pies, wreaths, kissing balls and floral arrangements.

About noon Saturday, customers waved to and spoke with the small-business owner on their way in for a whoopie pie and to meet friends for coffee at the bustling hub.

Small businesses nationwide wanted their shops to be bustling Saturday and had promoted Small Business Saturday.

Much attention is given annually to Black Friday and Cyber Monday; and this, the second annual Small Business Saturday, encouraged people to shop local during the busy holiday shopping season.

“When we all shop small, it will be huge,” reads the website www.smallbusinesssaturday.com, which listed U.S. Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins among its supporters.

DuBois said the relationship between small businesses and the towns in which they operate is reciprocal, healthy and multifaceted.

He and co-owner Michael Hunt employ 14 people, up from three when The Bankery started about 3 1/2 years ago.In addition, DuBois buys local produce and supports area fundraisers, and the businesses add to Skowhegan’s tax base.

Saturday was also a busy day at Trees To Please on Smithfield Road in Norridgewock.

“Without a doubt, this is a bigger Saturday than we’ve had in the past,” owner Todd Murphy said.

With 22,000 trees on 26 acres, Murphy is busy year-round. The last five weeks, Murphy said, he has been preparing for the holiday rush.

“I’ll do this till the day I die,” he said. “I enjoy the work. You never know what Mother Nature is going to throw at you — hail or bugs or drought.”

People can walk the lot to find and cut a tree, or can drive up to the pavilion in their warm car and point to a freshly cut tree. Live, potted blue spruce and Fraser firs are also available, as are kissing balls, fragrant wreaths, honey, maple syrup and birdhouses.

“I try to keep people happy,” Murphy said.

Elaine Shorey was so happy Saturday at Bittersweet Crossing Primitive Gifts in Fairfield, she said, “I come here to play.”

Inez Bickford’s large shop at the junction of Main Street and Western Avenue is filled with furniture, quilts, pillows, candles, dolls, lights, pottery and all things Christmas.

Friday and Saturday were both fast-paced, said Shorey, adding with a smile, “but at least I got lunch today.”

Shorey said she had been wielding a power tool much of Saturday so she could remove just-purchased items from the walls.

“Everybody’s in the spirit,” she said, “whether it’s to shop for themselves or somebody else.”

Beth Staples — 861-9252

[email protected]


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