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Small businesses on Long Island get creative to make an impression on holiday shoppers

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COMMACK, NY — With everyone feeling the pinch from inflation, small retailers feel extra pressure to offer discounts this holiday season, but analysts on Long Island tell CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan creativity can turn the tide for small business owners.

Saltwater Long Island is a mom-and-pop shop — or in this case, a pop-and-son shop.

“We are just really trying to compete in this marketplace. It’s difficult,” co-owner Buddy DeMarco said.

Buddy and Joe DeMarco sell their Long Island-branded coastal apparel online and in storefronts.

“We are kind of really upping our game even more to say, hey, listen, we want you to come embrace us and we’ll give you back more,” Joe DeMarco said.

Adjacent to them in the Walt Whitman mall are established stores and chains, which can afford huge holiday discounts, so the pressure’s on.

“We received a shipment last night and we unloaded 125 boxes,” Buddy DeMarco said.

Shipping, labor and rent are all up 25-30%.

“To pass it directly on to our customers is virtually impossible,” Buddy DeMarco said.

Experts say small retailers have to be cautious not to discount themselves out of business and to think creatively.

Nicole Penn, EGC marketing expert, says her clients are bundling products, offering perks and experiences.

“Find new ways to compete and those who have seen a 40 percent lift in sales, which is awesome and a positive signal for other small businesses,” she said.

“Everybody wants to go on the web, everybody wants to go to big box stores, but they can’t offer anything like styling services,” said Tandy Jeckel, owner of clothing store TandyWear in Commack.

It’s the personal touch at her mother-daughter clothing store.

“We realized we needed to light up the building. You need to make a wow presence,” she said.

“I would support small business … because they are struggling,” one person told McLogan.

“I would definitely go to a smaller store than a bigger store,” another person said.

“I would go local because big business is like a monopoly,” another person said.

It’s crunch time, do or die for many small businesses.

“What’s really cool about Black Friday through Cyber ​​Monday is that little niche in between, the Small Business Saturday, where communities really do come out and support the small guys like us,” Joe DeMarco said.

They’re enthusiastic about the holiday challenge ahead.