Crowds turn out for Small Business Saturday

  • New owner of the Greenfield Garden Cinemas, Isaac Mass, left, cuts the ribbon with his wife Angela Mass and daughters Aquinnah, 13, and Auburn, 11, during Small Business Saturday in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Jennifer Wallner stocks up on snacks before seeing a movie at Greenfield Garden Cinemas during Small Business Saturday in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Ashley Allis, 17, left, and George Gohl help a costumer at the concession stand at Greenfield Garden Cinemas during Small Business Saturday in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Movie-goers pack into Greenfield Garden Cinemas for a screening of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” during Small Business Saturday in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Isaac and Angela Mass give out raffle items at Greenfield Garden Cinemas during Small Business Saturday in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Tim Bohonowicz fills up a popcorn bag for customers at Greenfield Garden Cinemas during Small Business Saturday in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Isaac Mass behind the ticket counter at Greenfield Garden Cinemas during Small Business Saturday in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Staff Writer
Published: 12/2/2019 1:01:07 AM

GREENFIELD — Before the theater’s first screenings began Saturday, hundreds of people were already bustling about Greenfield Garden Cinemas.

It was Small Business Saturday — a day to focus on local businesses in contrast to the big-box buzz of Black Friday — and Garden Cinemas was one of many downtown businesses that reported a special and successful day.

“We really had a great small business Saturday,” said owner Isaac Mass, who held a ribbon-cutting and a free screening of the 1946 Christmas classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” at the 90-year-old theater.

Mass, a local attorney and outgoing at-large member of City Council, bought the cinema last month with his wife, Angela, taking over the downtown landmark from George Gohl and Bill Gobeille, who owned the 90-year-old theater for two decades.

And, given it was Small Business Saturday, Mass said it was encouraging to see a celebration of the theater, which has charm that is sometimes lost at larger, nationwide-chain theaters.

“Going to the theater, it’s about families,” Mass said. “It’s an activity they can do no matter how bad the weather is.”

“It’s also a great place for people who don’t have a family,” he added. “They can be around other people.”

In addition to the screening and ribbon-cutting celebration, Mass said Garden Cinemas gave away T-shirts and posters and began a free raffle — which ends Dec. 19 — for a prize iHome Mini speaker, which reads the book version of the movie “Frozen 2” out loud.

The business also held a fundraiser for the Greenfield Center School, and business was so successful the workers were really “working their tails off,” Mass said.

Mass intends to “scale back” practicing law in order to run the theater — running a local business, Mass said, is about being an integral part of the community and helping others.

It’s also about continuing traditions, and Mass has recently installed a TV monitor above the original 1929 theater organ in the Garden Cinemas lobby. Those who visit the theater can see the organ that used to play accompaniments to black-and-white silent films played at the theater, with the TV monitor above showing those very films.

Nearby, at The Outlet Store on Chapman Street, owner Skip White also said the day was a success.

It’s too early to say whether this holiday season will beat last year’s in terms of business, but The Outlet Store is off to a good start, White said.

“The first two days (of the holiday shopping season) have been very solid,” White said.

White said he is a “dinosaur” in the sense that small businesses that sell apparel are becoming more and more rare. Still, he said, Small Business Saturday was a day that saw plenty of “old friends and new people, too” come in to buy shirts, jackets, pants or shoes.

“We have built up a following,” said White, recalling some women who recently came into the store to see if it had changed, having bought their school clothes at the since-1947 store decades ago.

“People walk in and say, ‘Don’t change,’” White said. “This store is never going to change.”

White said, in contrast to other stores during this time of the year, he doesn’t have “sales” per se, but that his items are priced reasonably year-round.

“I don’t have sales. I deal with the working person,” he said.

Whitney Hill Antiques, in the building with the Home Furnishing Co. sign, on Main Street was also pleasantly “slammed” with business during the first two days of the shopping season, manager Debbie Stosz said.

“People appreciate not having to pay for parking,” said Stosz — downtown parking in Greenfield is free on Fridays and Saturdays through December. “There’s no rushing out to your car to pay the meter. It has been a big factor.”

Manager Eric Waite said the store-wide sales were drawing customers all day, and that this year might have been a “record.”.

“It’s been really buzzing,” he said.

While not a typical “business,” The Hive Makerspace down the street was open to 20 vendors who sold their own goods, and Adrienne LaPierre said it was successful. The craft-fair type event drew businesses like Clay & Dough pottery manufacturer; Mad Sahara Art Design; HT Woodshop and Analina Rag Dolls.

“It’s been a steady stream,” LaPierre said. “Very steady.”

Reach David McLellan at dmclellan@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 268.




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