As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to present challenges for local shop and restaurant owners, especially those looking to get their ventures off the ground, Small Business Saturday takes on added importance this year.

Tom Hannick, who launched Bella Rose Food Truck and Catering in July , will be featured Saturday by the Abington Business and Professional Association in Clarks Summit.

He hopes the exposure will give his business a jolt heading into the holiday season. The family-owned business is named after Hannick’s 6-month-old daughter, Isabella Rose. His girlfriend, Ashley Sarr, and mother, Debra Lee, are also involved with the operation.

“I’m excited to do something to support our community since our community has been very supportive of us,” Hannick said.

Janice Bevacqua, an ABPA board member, is encouraging store owners to remain open throughout the day, and the association is partnering with Clarks Summit Borough and the Abington Heights Civic League for the annual tree lighting Saturday evening.

“We’re trying to keep things safe, but also entice some people to come here and shop at all our small businesses,” she said.

The Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce plans to launch the Support Lackawanna marketing campaign, in conjunction with Lackawanna County, right before Thanksgiving, chamber director of marketing and communications Alicia Kilonsky said. The campaign, which encourages patrons to safely shop at local small businesses, will run through Christmas.

The chamber is asking local businesses to send information on holiday sales and promotions which they will post on its website, Kilonsky said.

While it’s easy to buy items from major retailers online, Bob Durkin, president of the Scranton chamber, urges consumers to consider local stores that may have the same products.

“Many of them have done a great job expanding their online capacity and curbside pickup options to make shopping safer,” he said.

Community nonprofit Scranton Tomorrow has been involved with Small Business Saturday for about a decade and 40 shops and eateries in the downtown business district will offer special promotions and unique gifts this year, said Leslie Collins, the organization’s executive director .

“It’s a day where the community really rallies support for small businesses which are the backbone of the local economy,” Collins said.

In Luzerne County, the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce and Diamond City Partnership are joining forces to help struggling businesses that lost their retail locations during the pandemic.

The Downtown Wilkes-Barre Holiday Pop Up Shop Program was initially started to allow local businesses to test drive retail locations, but has been adjusted this year to help those that have been hampered by COVID-19, said Meghan Flanagan, the Wilkes-Barre chamber’s communications and major projects manager.

Through the program, 11 local vendors will sell merchandise from Saturday through Dec. 12.

“This is one way to get in touch with local businesses in the area,” Flanagan said. “They have very unique merchandise that was started from scratch.”

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