Small businesses were given a big platform this past weekend as part of Small Business Saturday.
Over a dozen small businesses set up shop in the King Manor House Museum in Jamaica to showcase and sell their goods.
For executive director Kelsey Brow, the sight of local vendors selling their products was a special one.
“It’s a dream come true for me,” said Brow. “I moved from the suburbs of Denver to New York City on purpose to get away from big box stores.”
Brow said it was significant to lend the historic space to local vendors who might not have a brick-and-mortar store. From beauty and healthcare products to artisan jewelry, the first floor of the museum was filled with 16 small businesses, a majority of them based in Queens.
Among them were Sha’s House of Bling, JBM Jewelry, Beauty Bar and Mr. X Stock Market Academy.
“It’s really meaningful, especially because we’re in such a central location,” said Brow. “It’s exciting to have such a wide variety of vendors here today.”
The event was curated by Adrienne Whaley, executive director of the Queens Underground International Film Festival.
Whaley, an artist and entrepreneur who sells her own soaps, set up her display of products alongside the other local small businesses for the all-day event just down the road from her own studio.
“It was important before and now it’s magnified because none of these people have a storefront,” said Whaley on the support of small businesses. “Since the pandemic, it’s become even more important. Shopping online is okay, but here you can talk to the vendors and you can touch the items.”
Whaley also curated a selection of over 30 music and poetry videos that were screened in the parlor of the historic house. A room once used for entertainment purposes was repurposed for the showcase event.
“Of course they didn’t have film back then, but they would have had magic lantern shows, kind of like an old-fashioned slide projector but it was hand done,” Brow explained.
In Astoria, an outdoor holiday event brought out families to Steinway Street and 31st Avenue, where crowds were treated to carolers from Christmas Matters, a puppet show by Penny and the Puppettes, and holiday music performances by the Academia De Mariachi Nuevo Amanecer.
Sponsored by the Steinway Astoria Partnership, the holiday event aimed to bring the community together to support the over 300 businesses on Steinway Street.
“It’s a ‘thank you’ to the residents of Astoria and the Steinway community,” said executive director Marie Torniali. “This little part of Queens is made up of families of many, many different cultures. They all come together as one. Hopefully they’ll support the small businesses that line the streets here.”