Supporting Island businesses this Saturday

Shopping locally means supporting fellow Islanders. 


Black Friday is a day of rushing for the top deals from big-name retailers, like Amazon or Best Buy. While these Black Friday sales are nice, a less publicized day is coming after the shopping frenzy that is also worthy of paying attention to, called Small Business Saturday. This lesser-known shopping holiday encourages people to shop at local businesses, and there are plenty to choose from on Martha’s Vineyard. 

“We have some of the best shopping in the world on Martha’s Vineyard, and the beauty of shopping local is that you are supporting owners, artisans, shopkeepers, retailers who are local. They’re working and living in our community as well,” Nancy Gardella, executive director of the Martha’s Vineyard Chamber of Commerce, said.

“It’s extremely important to such a unique community like Martha’s Vineyard,” Melissa Scammel, owner of the gift shop Rainy Day in Vineyard Haven, said. “It’s not any town in particular. Martha’s Vineyard as a whole benefits from people buying locally.”

For some types of businesses, the owners’ knowledge can provide a unique perspective that cannot be attained through online purchases. Becky Williams and Rich Giaimo run the Vineyard Haven–based store Island Music together, and they both have music degrees. Their knowledge of music helps them make recommendations to customers on a deeper level. 

“With instruments, it’s important to get a sense of what it sounds like. I think it’s important to have a physical space for people to look at,” Williams said. “Music is such a whole world. It’s not just a marketplace.”

Mairéad MacClarence, owner of the year-round clothing store Nell in Edgartown, said she thinks shopping in a small business is more fun and personal than going into a big chain store. She also said people choosing to spend their money at local businesses is important. 

“Whenever you choose to spend your money at a small business, and I mean an actual small business, you are supporting works and dreams,” MacClarence said. “It means so much to us.” 

Annie Schwenk, owner of the clothing store Laughing Bear in Oak Bluffs, said a great part about local businesses is that they can serve the Island’s residents. 

“Laughing Bear is always open year-round to be useful and to serve the community,” Schwenk said. “We have clothing for every occasion for casual and dressy times, and people always seem to appreciate that. We have many clothing styles and uses available, so people don’t have to go off-Island to get them.” 

Gardella said the difficulty from the past two “very wonky and unusual years” during the height of the COVID pandemic makes shopping locally even more meaningful now.

“Now, I realize that at times we have to shop off-Island. But whenever we can, we encourage people to think local first,” Gardella said. “Because if you can get it on-Island, you can keep your dollar on-Island, supporting other Islanders. That is sort of the ultimate beauty of our Island economy.”


  1. Antivaxers who own local businesses do not support the community and in turn do not deserve support. I know who many of them are, especially among the artisans.

    • What a mean spirited and menacing comment. I’m not aware of a single anti-vaccine business owner on this island. If you don’t have specific evidence to back up these firebrand comments, please don’t make them.

      • Alex– It would be inappropriate to publicly name businesses that are owned by anti vaxers.
        How would you know ?
        But there are a number of businesses that ignore the mask mandate.
        Perhaps that’s a clue.

        • Don- How about a call to the board of health instead of the B-rate mafioso “I know who you are and where you work” act?

        • Don, I would never publicly out an irresponsible business owner. They do it themselves in several ways, including on social media… and in school meetings about mask mandates, as reported in this newspaper.

          And I don’t feed the trolls here.

          What works are the mandates, both masks and vaccines. Paying attention to who ignores mandates in place, or who screams bloody murder against them, are also helpful clues. Vaccination rates go up when unvaxed workers are threatened with losing their jobs. This gets the hesitant vaxed and the few selfish lunatics fired.

          To be clear, most local business owners are community-minded and entirely deserving of our full support. Being utterly unaware of at least some of the local, loud and minority anti-vaxers and anti-maskers who own small businesses is a signal of not being plugged into the community…or of simply turning a blind eye in order to carry on about the “freedumb” to be a danger to others, infecting others and causing the ER overcrowding and overworking of our health care worker heroes. Or some simply don’t want to acknowledge the moral corruption of being irresponsible and selfish because they enjoy being a troll here. Supporting any conspiracy nut business owners on the island goes against any civic-minded person’s sense of responsibiity and citizenship. It is not something I knowingly do.

          • I also wonder if anyone actually wants to spend money on non-essential services or goods when they know the owner but don’t like them! People are not forced to buy stuff or services no one really needs if the business owner is antisocial enough to ignore science and the welfare of their customers.

          • Have you considered organizing a boycott? This is a serious question, but it will probably be written off as “trolling”, which is an easy way to sidestep an honest intellectual exchange.

  2. Many islanders including my family were discouraged from shopping locally because of the mask mandate. Who wants to shop with a mask and fogged up glasses? Not enjoyable at all. Too bad the island health leaders aren’t following the science. Looking forward to our trip to Florida with no mask mandate and the lowest per capita Covid rate in the country.

    • John, just returned from Florida. My family is seriously considering moving back. Many people wear masks, many people don’t. It felt like a free country. The ability to make a decision on our own. It’s amazing. The island loves controlling our freedoms and for no reason other than fear and power. It’s pathetic.

      • Mike, we should all make our own decisions about precautions for Covid the same way we make our own decisions about the transmission of HIV/AIDS.
        Condoms are a matter of choice.
        We must remain free to give, and to get, HIV/AIDS.
        Anything less is pure Communism.

          • Enge– I see Albert’s point.
            The mask mandate is a paper tiger. It has no consequence, and in reality, the only thing that can happen to you is that you can be refused service if you don’t wear a mask in a place that requires one. But we have all seen the videos of the Karens claiming to be arrested for not wearing a mask, when in reality, they are being arrested for refusing to leave a private establishment that has asked them to leave.
            What Albert is saying is that responsible people with aids will tell their partner, or at least take precautions to mitigate the chances that their partner will contract Aids.
            Irresponsible people will not.

            Irresponsible people will not wear a mask to mitigate the chances of giving this to someone else.
            Responsible people will wear a mask.
            Yup, I’m sayi’n it–

            Good point Albert.

          • Albert’s comparison is objectively valid.

            Since 1981, HIV/AIDS has claimed the lives of more than 700,000 Americans. COVID did the same in 21 months.

            Globally, an estimated 36.3 million people have died from AIDS-related causes over the past four decades. 5.2 million people have died from COVID over the past two years.

            The current pandemic has harmed all age groups in various ways. For every four COVID-associated deaths, one child in the U.S. loses a parent or caregiver.



      • Mike–It’s a great time to sell your house here. I hear there are good deals on houses that are in so called “flood zones” down there. All those stupid liberals are selling before the property is only good for clam farming. Of course , you and I both know that sea level rise will only come up a foot at most in our lifetimes.
        Take advantage of their stupidity, cash out and get big bucks for your current house from some billionaire socialist and enjoy your freedom in the sunshine state. . You know what they say– If you don’t love it, leave it.
        Of course, I hope you continue to subscribe to the times and comment often here. We liberals need a good laugh occasionally.
        And don’t let the door hit you on your way out.

        • Adding to the anticipated rise in sea level, the water table will rise as well. The ground can’t absorb as much rain because the water table can’t drain uphill to the ocean. And a higher water table will result in more frequent basement flooding.

    • Hope you enjoy wearing that mask on the plane– or perhaps that will be so unacceptable to you that you will enjoy a nice road trip.
      By the way, I don’t know what bubble gum wrappers you get your information from, but …
      As of Nov 26 2021:

      Florida has had 173,740 cases per million population.
      It ranks 14th highest in the country

      Massachusetts has had 131,985 cases per million population.
      It ranks 40th highest in the country

      This is despite the fact that Ma ranks second in the most tests per capita –4,827,762/1 M
      Florida ranks 25th in the most tests per capita –2,021,056/1 M

      If you click at the top of the column that says “Tot cases/1M pop” or “tests/1M pop” it will arrange them in order.

      I think I’ll just suffer through here.
      Hope you have a safe and enjoyable trip.

      • Also, Florida had the highest surge in covid cases and deaths in the country in August. Omicron hopes Florida continues to eschew mask mandates. Are you against sunscreen, too?

        • Don and Jackie,
          You’ve wagged fingers about the selfish unmasked and unvaccinated fools here and in deplorable backwaters like Florida. Moderate and sensible people have said that if the willingly vaccinated get the shot, the holdouts can reap what they sow. They’ll fill ERS and it’ll be like motorcycle riders who refuse to wear helmets who end up needing emergency care; willfully foolish people getting what’s coming to them. The vaccinated will be fine. You scream that variants will fester in these ignorant rubes. We say, “It won’t come from Leroy in Arkansas, it’ll come from a 3rd world countries with low vaccination rates”. We risk being called racist and xenophobic for stating this evident truth. Sure enough, everyone is up in arms about Omnicon, coming from South Africa where the vaccination rate is 20%. What will you say next?

          • Alex: do you know why surgeons wear masks while operating on a patient? Because while they are likely immunized against whatever germs are floating around, they can still breathe in the germs and then breathe them out on patients. Masks are to prevent this from happening, even with the vaccinated.

    • John, there is nothing enjoyable about Covid-19.
      Especially the ventilator part.
      750,000 Americans will be doing no holiday shopping.
      The Island health leaders are following the science.
      More mask use, less transmission.
      How is it that surgeons work with masks?

    • As I’ve been given to understand, it’s also difficult to see out from a ventilator. It’s also often too late to get the vaccine.

  3. Neil and Albert- Not sure where you got the notion I’m anti- mask, because it’s false. If local health boards decide it’s the best course of action I’m in favor of compliance. I am opposed to paranoia and moralizing that is out of line with the current medical realities.

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