BANGOR, Maine — Downtown Bangor was bustling Saturday, with people looking to find deals while giving mom-and-pop shops a boost leading up to the holiday season.
Teresa McDonald of Holden and Beth Gardner of Orono worked their way down Central Street on Saturday afternoon clutching a collection of paper bags stuffed with gifts from the holiday haul.
“I know how much some small business owners struggle and I want to do what I can to help,” Gardner said as she and her friend made their way back to their car. “It’s such a different atmosphere here than from the mall.”
Gardner and McDonald started their day hours earlier with coffee at Giacomo’s cafe before working their way down Central Street, store by store.
“I think we hit about everything,” McDonald said, clutching her bags full of books, jewelry and food.
Most downtown shops had special deals for Plaid Friday and Small Business Saturday, the downtown counter to Black Friday sales at big box stores and other large retailers. The offerings ranged from 10-25 percent off everything in the store to free coffee and door prizes.
Gibran Graham, a city councilor and marketing manager at Briar Patch, a downtown children’s book and toy store, said his store had seen a steady stream of customers on Friday and Saturday.
“It’s great to see so many people out in support of local business,” Graham said, adding that downtown shopping is a different sort of experience from in the mall area. “Everyone’s in a good mood and you don’t see that stressed out zaniness you might find elsewhere.”
Briar Patch hosted author Lynn Plourde and illustrator Russ Cox, who were signing copies of their latest book, “Merry Moosey Christmas.”
Inside The Rock & Art Shop across the street, Mike and Asheley King played with a collection of magnetic stones, thinking about getting some for their nephews’ Christmas gifts. The couple said this is their favorite downtown Bangor shop when they visit from Portland.
The Kings said they like shopping in downtowns, where they can get to know the owners and run into people they know. They like The Rock & Art Shop because it’s “as much a museum as it is a store.”
“If I’m enjoying these so much, I’m sure they would too,” Mike King told his wife as he grabbed another clump of stones.
Most businesses planned to be open until 6 p.m. on Small Business Saturday.
Follow Nick McCrea on Twitter @nmccrea213.