GARDINER — With reusable shopping bags slung over some shoulders, shoppers promenaded along the cobblestone sidewalks of Gardiner to do their Christmas shopping as part of Small Business Saturday, their cars lining all of the parking along Water Street. 

Three generations of Pittston women made a day of “poking around” in the town, keeping their dollars local. 

Niche Inc. owner Jason Goucher holds up a Sammy Hagar Christmas album Saturday in downtown Gardiner. It was one of the special Record Store Day Black Friday releases that were releasedthis year. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan Buy this Photo

“I think it’s good to support local business and keep the money in the hands of local people,” said Jen Sculli, who was shopping in Gardiner with her two daughters, Lyza, 6, and Sage, 12, and their grandmother, Cheryl Farley. 

They took a break to warm up and drink free coffee and hot chocolate at Bintliff’s Corner Brew. Owner Robert Bintliff plans to open the shop in January 2020, but was offering tastings to shoppers to get their feedback as he calibrated the machines. 

Friends Tia McCollett and Milicent Markle, both of Gardiner, perused collectibles at Cobaltmoon Antiques.

“(Shopping locally) definitely helps the Maine economy,” said McCollett.

McCollett said she tries to do most of her Christmas shopping in small, local businesses rather than shopping online or at large chain stores. 

“We try to, but it is tough,” she said. “There are a lot of kids in the family.”

Melissa Lindley, executive director of Gardiner Main Street, put numbers to just how closely dollars stay in the local economy — about two-thirds of every dollar spent. 

“It means that you are supporting a business that would support your kid’s baseball team or the profits are not going to an executive out of state making millions of dollars,” said Lindley. “These are people who care about our community and support our community.”

Gardiner Main Street encouraged shoppers to spend in the town by offering Gardiner Bingo. Items in the Bingo blocks that could be marked included buying something more than 25 years old, leaving an online review for a business, or visiting a business that is new to the shopper. 

And while spending helps, nonfinancial support also benefits local businesses.

“It does not have to be by spending money; it can be sharing a post of a business or checking in and leaving a review,” said Lindley.

Scott Shaw talks about his art for sale Saturday in SpinOff Studios Gallery and Shop in downtown Gardiner. Kennebec Journal photo by Joe Phelan Buy this Photo

In SpinOff Studio and Gallery, Scott Shaw displayed his work on rough cut wood. He has been woodburning for a year. While by lunch time he had not sold any of his artwork, he had received many compliments, especially on a wolf howling.

SpinOff, a nonprofit studio and gallery space for adults with disabilities, saw an increase in gallery shoppers as part of Small Business Saturday, many of whom participated in the cookie walk fundraiser.  

Niche Inc. Music & Games saw steady business throughout the weekend so far. 

On Black Friday, vinyl record shoppers were lined up outside the store waiting for it to open at 8 a.m. when co-owners Jason Goucher and Samantha Robinson arrived. 

“It made us feel good to come down and see some people out there,” said Goucher. They opened the store four years ago.

The shoppers were a mix of local and out-of-area shoppers seeking the biannual releases by various record labels of limited edition vinyl records, explained Robinson. 

One patron from Massachusetts was among the early shoppers seeking the U2 record, “U2-3,” said Goucher.

A tree lighting was also scheduled at 4:30 p.m. in Johnson Hall Park. 

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