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Business districts bracing for busy holiday season |

Business districts bracing for busy holiday season

| Thursday, November 15, 2018 8:06 p.m

Sleigh bells won’t be the only thing ringing this month as holiday shopping gets into full swing in local communities.

Registers will chime double time during Black Friday and Small Business Saturday.

Those sounds likely will be replaced by keystrokes on Cyber Monday, a major shopping day for online retailers.

While some retailers were open on Thanksgiving last year, that won’t be the case this time around for Westmoreland and Monroeville malls.

Both will be closed for the holiday and reopen at 6 a.m. Nov. 23.

Monroeville Mall will host a Black Friday Bash starting at 11 a.m. There will be a deejay, giveaways and a selfie station for photos.

Small Business Saturday was created in 2010 by American Express as a way to support small, locally-owned businesses through the holiday shopping season.

Some local organizations have partnered with their community businesses to enhance that effort.

Amanda Lee of Amanda Lee Glassware in Oakmont said many borough shops have agreed to be open at the same time and promote one another during what may be the busiest time of the year.

“Black Friday’s madness with the big commercial stores,” said Lee, an Oakmont Chamber of Commerce board member. “This way, you’re supporting your local community and putting that money back into the town. We encourage people to shop Oakmont that weekend. Everyone has treats and things, special deals and offers.”

Hours will be 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and noon to 4 p.m. Sundays.

Lee said she hopes shoppers continue to patronize borough businesses beyond the weekend.

“The last six weeks (of the year) are the biggest for retail,” she said.

Jennifer Curran of Penn Hills Community Development Corp. agrees, which is why for the past seven years the group has offered a Shop Local contest all November long.

“I believe what makes it a successful program is the fact that businesses are investing in the community by providing the gifts,” she said. “As a result, the shoppers are benefiting. It’s all for the sake of trying to invest in the overall economic development of the community.”

Businesses pay a $5 entry fee and must provide a prize valued at $25 or more.

At least 65 stores have signed up this year. They have red Shop Local signs in their windows and contestant forms for customers.

“We’re trying to encourage people to shop in Penn Hills, and there’s two ways for them to win,” Curran said.

People can fill out a form where they shop to become eligible for one of many prizes. Amount spent at the time does not matter. The second way to win, however, will cost you.

Grand prize seekers must save their November receipts from at least 10 participating businesses, submit them by Dec. 5 with the contestant’s name, address and home phone number. The one who spent the most money that month wins.

Contestants do not need to be from Penn Hills to win. Mail receipts to Penn Hills CDC at P.O. Box 17730, Penn Hills, PA, 15235.

Winners will be selected Dec. 10 and baskets will be presented at the Penn Hebron Garden Club Dec. 19.

A list of participating shops is posted at . Email Jennifer Curran at for more information.

In Aspinwall, the business corridors of Brilliant and Commercial avenues are lined with small businesses trying to attract shoppers on Black Friday.

Jess Vukmir, owner of Dovecote Aspinwall, said she makes a game of it for customers in her eclectic gift store along Brilliant Avenue.

She runs a promotion that allows customers to pick their discount from a basket.

“On that weekend, we have at least one coupon up to 50 percent off the entire purchase,” she said.

“It’s a fun promotion, and our customers love it. It helps kick off the holidays with some fun and cheer.”

Staff writer Tawnya Panizzi contributed to this story.

Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at 412-871-2367, or via Twitter @MikeJdiVittorio.

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