Rockville Centre St. Patrick’s Day March donates to small businesses and employees


Not being able to host a St. Patrick’s Day parade in Rockville Centre this year didn’t stop the village parade board from giving back. Instead, it hosted its first March for Small Businesses, and money continues to roll in three months after the holiday.

“The parade that shares and cares” lived up to its name and then some by using roughly $40,000 it collected from residents to give back to small businesses struggling amid the coronavirus pandemic. The initial financial goal in March was $25,000.

Jackie Kerr, vice president of the Rockville Centre St. Patrick’s Day Parade Board, said she was blown away by the fundraising efforts. “It was a huge success, even better than we anticipated,” she said. “It’s remarkable.”

Advance Formal Wear, Eden Total Skin Care and Brower Avenue Deli were the primary small business recipients were each provided with $5,000 in donations.

Keith Linsalata, owner of Art Flower Shop, on North Village Avenue, nominated his friends at Advance Formal Wear. With large social gatherings impossible to hold over the past year, Advance Formal had very little to do. Art Flower Shop sold green bows to support the formal wear store, accumulating a few thousand dollars before hearing about the March for Small Business initiative. “Nominating them was really a no-brainer,” Linsalata said of Advance Formal Wear. “They’ve always given back to the community with charities.”

Real estate firm Daniel Gale Sotheby’s, in Rockville Centre, was the first to reach out to the board to see how it could help other local businesses. Monica Murray, a sales manager at the office, battled Covid-19 while coordinating the contribution effort and spreading the word about the March for Small Business. “It made me realize how it can disrupt a business in town,” Murray said of the pandemic. “That was enlightening, and motivated us even more.”

Murray and Sotheby’s bought more than $1,000 worth of bows from Art Flower Shop and put them on all the houses they sold in the village. They also gave out gift certificates for Kookaburra coffee house and for slices of pizza from Gino’s at their open houses. Murray credited her agents, many of whom live in the village, with getting the word out about the need that had arisen among small businesses.

As a result of the fundraising efforts, As a result, the board awarded funds to even more people than it set out to. They included eight small business owners nominated for their work during the pandemic, each of which received $1,000.

Josh Kleinman, who co-owns Brower Avenue Deli with his brother, Jason, said he was grateful for the donations, which have enabled him to cover part of the store’s rent. “Since we bought the place, we’ve been trying to be a part of the community,” Kleinman said, “and to see someone see that and appreciate that and pay it back is very nice. It makes you happy to be a business in a town like that, where the residents care about their businesses.”

Vines & Branches, MacArthur Park Restaurant, Lucky Finds Boutique, the Hagen Kavanagh School of Dance, and the Glass Beauty Bar received additional money because of the success of the fundraiser.

Given its runaway success, it’s possible that March for Small Businesses could return in tandem with the parade next year, but nothing has been decided on yet. For now, the organizers said they were excited to see how much good has been done over the past three months.

Parade board member Ann Travers, who suggested the fundraiser, said she was surprised by how successful it was. “It’s way above and beyond what we expected,” she said, “and the donations are still coming in.”