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Franklin Square, Elmont businesses gear up for the holidays

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Store managers and owners throughout Franklin Square and Elmont are gearing up for the holiday rush, when hundreds of people are expected to patronize their businesses.

At Sapienza Bake Shop, 400 to 500 people are likely to start coming to the Elmont store every day next week. Most will buy cookies for holiday parties, said owner Paul Sapienza, with cakes being “a very close second.”

His pastries are superior to those the chain supermarkets offer, he explained, because supermarkets are more price-conscious about ingredients, and as a result, people do not get that same nostalgic feeling for their grandmother’s baking when biting into a supermarket pastry, as they do when they try one from Sapienza’s.

“We might not be able to beat [the supermarkets] on price,” he said, “but we can beat them on taste and quality.”

Everyone who works at Sapienza’s lives in the neighborhood, and nearly 67 cents of every dollar spent at the bakery is returned to the Franklin Square and Elmont area, Sapienza said, citing a statistic that Nassau County Executive Laura Curran shared when she launched the Shop Local Scavenger Hunt on Nov. 25. The hunt encouraged people to be one of the first four patrons at local businesses before Small Business Saturday ended on Nov. 30.

“Ninety percent of all Long Island companies are small businesses, so shopping small makes a big impact,” Curran said. “Small businesses employ our neighbors, family and friends, and choosing to buy local helps keep our communities vibrant and strong.”

In Franklin Square and Elmont, store owners said they have noticed in recent years that people are choosing local businesses over big-box stores and large online retailers. At Eastern Meat Farms, Store Manager Franco Devito said he receives 120 to 130 entrée orders for Christmas and slightly more than 100 deli orders. To keep up with the demand, he said, he puts the orders into a computer system that every employee can access. Then, “we sit down with everyone and make sure everything goes smoothly.”

The grocer tries to accommodate every request, Devito said, and will bundle entrée and side dish orders to reduce a customer’s cost. Such customer service has allowed the grocery to serve the community for 36 years, and form relations with Franklin Square families. “It’s like a family here,” Devito said.

The same could also be said about Puppy Love in Franklin Square, a family-owned dog store that moved to the area four years ago from Greenvale. The store is offering discounts on puppies and supplies, as its employees prepare for its busiest season. “Everyone wants a puppy for Christmas,” said Marissa Farrara, the store’s manager. All of the dogs for sale come from breeders and not puppy mills, Farrara noted, adding that hundreds of people will come into the store on Franklin Avenue in December. Not everyone will make a purchase, she said, but helping support the local business will help the community thrive.

Trevor Gosden, the store manager of SP Firearms, agreed. He called Franklin Square, where the store is located, the “ideal place for a new business.”

The firearms and ammunitions store opened in the community in March, and will now face its first holiday rush, which, Gosden said, runs concurrently with hunting season. The store typically sees 15 to 30 customers weekly, and Gosden said he tries to determine exactly what a customer is looking for. “We can cater particularly to each need,” he explained, adding that shopping locally is more personal than buying a gun from a large retailer.

He also noted that he and the other employees have become part of the community, and buy lunch from other local businesses, whereas big companies are more detached from the neighborhoods where they’re located.

“At the end of the day, when you have a small business that will take the time to figure out exactly what you need,” Gosden said, “I think that’s more loyal.”