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Businesses across New Ken getting in on 'Shop Small Crawl' for Small Business Saturday

Small Business Saturday is going to be big in New Kensington.

More than 40 businesses, from downtown to Parnassus, are expected to participate in the first New Ken Shop Small Crawl on Nov. 27, the Saturday after Thanksgiving. The event will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

“We want everybody to know what’s here,” said Jamie Parker, who opened Sweet Alchemy Bake Shop in April. “It’s a great way to check everything out and see what you’re missing.”

Created by American Express, Small Business Saturday was first observed in 2010. It encourages people to shop at local and small businesses in their communities as opposed to the focus on big box retail on Black Friday, the traditional start of the holiday shopping season.

“This will be a really fun Saturday,” Mayor Tom Guzzo said. “It gives people an opportunity to visit every small shop that has opened and see what’s going on downtown.”

Sweet Alchemy and Olde Towne Overhaul are organizing the crawl. The New Ken Downtown Partnership and Bridgeway Capital are sponsors.

Bridgeway, a nonprofit and community development financial institution, provided funding for flyers and promotion, said Michelle Thom, operations manager of Olde Towne Overhaul and Voodoo at the Ritz.

Headed by Voodoo at the Ritz owner Mike Malcanas, Olde Towne Overhaul has acquired several buildings in New Kensington’s business district, repaired them and then worked with small-business owners to move into storefronts.

After the holiday rush, January and February will be hard for the city’s businesses, Thom said.

“We wanted to do an event that will drive people to these people’s stores,” she said.

The crawl will feature many of the new businesses that have opened in New Kensington, such as Parker’s all-vegan bakery, and long-established cornerstones of the city, such as Eazer’s Restaurant & Deli. The participating businesses are being highlighted on the event’s Facebook page.

Businesses will be offering samples, snacks and specials. They also have donated items for a free basket raffle, of which there are three of equal value.

To enter the raffle, shoppers will have to get stamps from at least three businesses in each of six zones.

Maps will be available at Voodoo on Fifth Avenue.

“You don’t have to buy anything. You can happily visit more,” Parker said. “It’s a good way to walk around the community and see what’s here.”

Shoppers will turn their maps in at Preserving, a music store at New Ken Social, previously home to the Salvation Army on 11th Street.

A.J. Rassau opened Preserving in 2019. He will be offering 25% off all the used stuff in the store.

“I think every building on Fifth Avenue will be filled by next summer,” he said. “It seems every building has a business or is being worked on.”

Kareem Eazer Corbin, a Syrian immigrant, started Eazer’s as a grocery in 1918. Arthur Eazer Corbin turned it into a restaurant when he took over the business in 1950, said his daughter, Sarah Campos.

Campos said they will be offering free drinks with meals on Small Business Saturday.

Campos said her father, who died in 2009, would be proud of New Kensington today.

“He was around when New Ken was a booming town, and he was around when the businesses and hospital left our town,” she said. “He would be beaming with joy at the comeback.”

Thom and Parker hope the crawl will be an annual event in New Kensington.

Anyone who doesn’t come to New Kensington for the day will be missing out, Thom said.

“There are amazing, wonderful businesses down here,” Thom said. “It’s time to get those Christmas gifts and ‘support local.’ ”

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