Nassau County kicks off holiday season


Nassau County has one wish for the holiday season this year — shop local.

“I know we just out of the corona virus pandemic, and everyone got used to online shopping and ordering food,” said Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman. ”That’s all well and good, but we’ve been locked up for two years, now is the time to get out.”

Blakeman and other county officials gathered with local merchants, business owners, and Legislator Debra Mule’ to kick off their new holiday shopping season campaign — which encourages Long Island shoppers to shop and dine locally — at Swirl Bliss, a frozen yogurt shop located on 1777 Grand Ave. on Dec. 7.

“This is a chance to meet business leaders and neighbors in our stores,” said Blakeman. “It’s joyous to be able to go shop locally this holiday season, whether you’re buying frozen yogurt or toys for your kids.”

Blakeman explained how the last several years of post-pandemic recovery remains a serious challenge for Nassau County’s small and medium-sized businesses. He said the campaign aims to motivate consumers — who in the past chose to spend dollars from online retailers —support small businesses by dining, shopping, and buying gift cards in Nassau County.

Before he was able to help himself to some frozen yogurt, Blakeman introduced Legislator Debra Mule’ to the podium. Mule’ recognized local entrepreneurs that faced challenges maintaining a store during the Covid-19 pandemic — like Charles and Carline Dickens, co-owners of Swirl Bliss.

Charles Dickens said he was already struggling to keep his store open in 2019, before the Covid-19, and only stayed open by the “grace of god, and the community’s support.”

“At one point I thought we were going to close our doors,” said Dickens. “Than the pandemic hit, it was like a double whopper.”

Dickens said since then, his store was able to weather the pandemic, and looks forward to celebrating 10 years of service in July 2023. He said not only does he serve in Baldwin, but Dickens and his wife also live in Baldwin. 

Charles Dickens than introduced his wife Carline Dickens, who said she loves her community and try to give back to her community by hiring locally and participating in school events when possible. She said almost half of her staff is sourced from the Freeport and Baldwin high schools.

“All I ask of the community is to keep coming, and keep us open,” said Carline Dickens.

Next to speak was Robert Fonti, Suffolk Co-chairman of the Long Island Business Council, to speak about the positive impacts of shopping locally. He said purchasing goods and services from a store in Nassau County induces a multiplier effect that can be felt in Suffolk County. He also explained the feeder effect — businesses attract customers who will then go on to shop at multiple nearby businesses, thus feeding off of each other.

“For every dollar spent downtown, there’s a multiplicative effect,” said Fonti. “If someone spends a dollar at Swirl Bliss, the business owners have to spend money on equipment and supplies, which sustains jobs in other businesses.”