Small Business Saturday…Shop right in your backyard..

Small Business Saturday…Shop right in your backyard..

Small Business Saturday reminds us of the prime shopping opportunities right in our own communities. Not only do the small businesses where we work, live, and play offer numerous gift-giving possibilities, they are hands-on and ready to complete your shopping list with quality, thoughtful gifts.

The Hidden Christmas Gem in the Valley: Kraynak’s Christmasland still bringing joy to young and old alike


Every year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, the Shop Small movement energizes small business owners to prepare for customers in every way possible. That includes the traditional brick-and-mortar customer and the online shopper. The single-day event continues to grow each year.  That means business owners are ready for you to shop their stores!

Small businesses feed our communities. They keep our main streets thriving and employ nearly half of the American workforce. Supporting small businesses means you’re supporting your local economy, local business, tax base, schools, and infrastructure. Your holiday shopping will put food on the tables of people you know.

You will be doing your community some good, and you will also be finding quality gifts. Small businesses take pride in their work. They’ve worked hard for their dream, and it shows in their craftsmanship.


Keep these tips in mind when shopping this holiday:

  • Check your holiday shopping list for those who would like handcrafted items and buy locally.
  • Handcrafted means a lot of things. For example, woodworking to sewing, pottery to quilting, welding to jewelry, baked goods to preserves and so much more!
  • Small businesses may specialize in one area or they may offer a variety of services. Don’t hesitate to walk in and explore the store. You may be surprised to find what they offer, and discover the one thing you’ve been looking for.
  • Who has a hard-to-shop-for family member? We all do, right? Ask the shop owner for help. They often have ideas you’ve never considered that will fill your empty stocking.

Explore your community while supporting small businesses. While finding your amazing gifts, give a shout-out to your favorite small business, too! Be sure to use #SmallBusinessSaturday to post on social media.

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American Express founded Small Business Saturday in 2010 to get more customers into small businesses the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

Small Business FAQ

Q. What kinds of small businesses can I shop locally?
A. Small businesses come in every shape and form, and you might be surprised by the selections available. Nearly every community has a diverse collection of businesses though some are more common than others.

Small Businesses Near You
  • Food and Drink – gift certificates, swag, specialty gifts
  • Tattoo artist – gift certificates, t-shirts, hats, and local art
  • Pet care – grooming, training, supplies, books, toys,
  • Book stores – books, book bags, bookmarks, games, comic books, art
  • Photographers – portraits, frames, classes, art
  • Butcher – meat packages, gift certificates, smoked meats,
  • Fitness centers – gift certificates, spa packages, training sessions, swag
  • Music stores – music, instruments, gear, classes, art
  • Hobby store – kits, crafts, tools, projects, supply, art, decor
  • Sporting goods – equipment, clothing, games, caps
  • Floral shops – gifts, gift cards, candy, gift baskets
  • Clothing stores – wearables, jewelry, shoes, hats
  • Technology centers – unique gifts, services, classes
  • Salons – gift certificates, spa treatments, manicure, pedicure

Q. Is it too late to request a custom piece for the holiday season?
A. If you want to give a custom gift, it’s important to contact the craftsperson as soon as possible. Many businesses that create custom gifts start booking orders well before Halloween. They often know how many orders they can fill in a set time frame.

Q. What kinds of gifts are custom made?
A. Custom gifts come in a variety of forms, and they are often offered by small businesses. Craftspeople often customize gifts with names, colors, or styles. They design large pieces to fit the decor, personal needs, or preferences. If you have an idea for a custom piece, contact someone local to work out the details.

Source: National Day Calendar

Biggest Shopping Day of the Year, Black Friday….

Biggest Shopping Day of the Year, Black Friday….

In the United States, the day after Thanksgiving has become known as Black Friday and is considered the official kick-off for holiday shopping. Retailers across the country slash prices, offer doorbuster deals on popular big-ticket items, and often open in the wee hours of the morning to extend early bird specials. Dedicated and thrifty shoppers line up outside the stores to be the first to grab that special deal or this season’s popular and hard-to-find gift.

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Despite being the traditional kick-off to holiday shopping, Black Friday isn’t the only day retailers slash prices. These days, many retailers begin deals and specials right after Halloween. Many also offer special, exclusive deals to their online or app-using shoppers.


Get out for those amazing Black Friday deals.

There are several ways to maximize your Black Friday shopping success:

  • Plan ahead. Scour the ads both online and in newspapers.
  • Prioritize the wish list.  Which item will you save the most if you can nab it?
  • Check to see if any of the deals are available online. Why stand in line when you can order from the comfort of your home?
  • Compare lists with friends and family. We can’t be in two places at once, and not all the deals on your lists will be at the same store.
  • Coordinate with your group to divide and conquer.  Work as a team to maximize successful shopping.
  • Make sure there isn’t a purchase limit.  If there is, make sure the team for that store is big enough to obtain the required number of bounty.
  • Set the alarm clock.  Some of the best Black Friday deals start soon after midnight.
  • Dress warm if you are located in the colder regions of the country.
  • Pack a snack, a thermos of tea or coffee, and maybe even a lawn chair.  Those lines and the wait get long.
  • Work in pairs. You don’t want to lose your place in line if nature calls.

Black Friday shopping just isn’t your style?  That’s okay.   Then all you will need for that is an internet connection and a credit card.

Use #BlackFriday to post on social media.

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The origin of Black Friday is derived from the enormous amount of sales retailers report which can often bring their profits into the black. Black in accounting is used to describe a business making a profit as opposed to being in the red denoting losses.

Before 1980, the term Black Friday had a more ominous term in sports. It was considered a curse. For example, in 1981, on March 13th (an unlucky Friday) the 76ers lost for the second Friday the 13th in a row. Sportswriters used the term Black Friday in reference to their bad luck.

In another reference, the term described the dread of employees who would potentially be without jobs on a Friday. It also reflected the darkest and widest spread financial impacts – the fall of Wall Street. The Black Friday of 1869 may be the earliest use of the term.

Source: National Day Calendar

The Hidden Christmas Gem in the Valley: Kraynak’s Christmasland still bringing joy to young and old alike

The Hidden Christmas Gem in the Valley: Kraynak’s Christmasland still bringing joy to young and old alike

HERMITAGE — Whether maintaining a years-long tradition or starting a new one, families flock each Christmas holiday to Kraynak’s in Hermitage to experience Santa’s Christmasland. Christie Sweder of Boardman started visiting the store annually before she and her husband had children.

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“When my husband and I were first married, we went to Kraynak’s, and picked out and purchased one of the decorated trees in the Christmasland display,” she said. “The trees are all numbered and for sale, with pick-up being at the end of the holiday season when the displays come down. We still set up that same tree in our foyer every year. The couple began taking their three sons when the boys were infants and toddlers.

“We were drawn to Kraynak’s by the amazing Christmas tree displays in Santa’s Christmasland,” Sweder said. “That was the best part of our visit, and we were sometimes able to walk through a second time if the line wasn’t too long.” She said the Christmas trees – 80 this year — offer something for everyone.

“If extended family was in town visiting for the holidays, we would time our visit to Kraynak’s so we could bring them along,” Sweder explained. “We’ve brought family from as far away as Boston to visit Kraynak’s with us.” Dan Zippie, Kraynak’s general manager, believes one reason the store’s Santa’s Christmasland is so popular year after year is because families can visit together.

“It’s free and kids who enjoyed it years ago, now they’re parents and they’re bringing their kids and then their grandparents,” he said. “So we have almost three, four generations now that have seen Christmasland.”

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Some who have moved out of the area make sure to plan a trip to the display when they return home to visit family, Zippie said. The family-owned store opened in 1949 and Zippie’s grandfather, John Kraynak, started the Christmas display in 1963.

The lawn and garden store was looking for a way to draw in customers during the off-season. Santa’s Christmasland opened on Sept, 10 each year and runs through Dec. 31. Visiting the display is free and all of the trees and ornaments are available for sale too as well as toys and candy for the children.bThe trees, lights, animation are all done in house by Kraynak’s designers and other employees.

“Our help is very talented and from year to year, they’re challenged to come up with new display ideas,” the general manager said. Work designing the displays begins in January. “We’ll get ideas and we’ll order different things and we’ll come up with different themes,” he said.

It’s basically a year-round operation, involving many departments of the store. Tree set up begins in July and in August, designers from the store’s  floral department decorate our trees. And others work to perfect the backdrops.

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Kraynak’s is now owned by Zippie’s uncles, George and John Kraynak. The display is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays. In the spring, the store transforms into Easter Bunny Lane, drawing in still more families.

Scott Schulick of Youngstown estimates that he’s visited the store every year for nearly 50 years. “Our grandparents started taking us when we were very young,” he said. “It’s just a tradition that our family has.” He doesn’t think they’ve missed a year and he, his parents and grandmother, 97, just visited a few weeks ago,

Schulick enjoys the memories the visits conjure. “For that time you’re walking through the Christmas Tree Lane, it’s kind of like you’re a kid again,” he said. “It’s just very festive and nostalgic and just a great tradition.” And it’s one Schulick expects to carry on. “I think as long as they’re doing it, we’ll do it,” he said.

Apply now: STN is hiring a general assignment and/or freelance reporter, Have Fun on the Job!

Apply now: STN is hiring a general assignment and/or freelance reporter, Have Fun on the Job!

The STN | Spanning the Need is a fast-growing company currently covering most of Trumbull, Mahoning and Columbiana Counties in eastern Ohio. We will be continuing to service the three county area through the holidays and beyond. We are all about covering good news stores and what motivates us in the community.

STN | Spanning The Need is a space for storytellers. The stories of creators. The stories of visionaries. The stories of everyday people doing the extraordinary. The stories of our great community. Spanning The Need is a podcast and good news stories website of thoughtfully curated experiences, news, advice, and culture. in a way that truly “spans the need” of others in our community by giving the community a voice. Whether it’s sports, politics, news, food, or events; there is a story to be told and a need to be met—welcome to that venue

We’re now seeking a multiple general assignment and/or freelance reporters to help us deliver high-impact stories about the people and institutions who shape the character of our community. We’re not looking for someone who can do it all — the area is much too big for that. Instead, we need at beginners and experienced reporter who can help and assist to identify subjects our readers will care about, find answers and deliver solutions-oriented articles that have the potential to make the Mahoning Valley a better place to live.

In particular, we love coverage that gives citizens the information they need to make better decisions in the life or channel their time and donations to people doing good work. Whether that’s holding someone accountable or praising a job well done, STN readers are counting on us to give them just that.

This is an opportunity to be part of something that SPECIAL, literally changes lives and enriches our community. We offer a flexible working environment.


  • Home based to start. Eastern Ohio (Trumbull, Mahoning, and Columbiana Counties Coverage area.
  • However, you do not need to live in those communities to cover those..We will extend to Northeast Ohio for the Holidays.
  • Must live in Northeast Ohio (Canton, Akron, Cleveland, Youngstown) or Western Pennsylvania. (STN may make other considerations on location).

Compensation and perks

  • Work when you want as long as you’re meeting objectives
  • Office supplies and tech stipend (if applicable-need based)

Note: This is a contract position that does not offer healthcare coverage or retirement benefits. You will be provided a 1099, and Spanning the Need will not take out taxes, if applicable.

Deliverables on what to expect (if applicable)

  • File investigative story (~1,500-2,000 words) and well-sourced news features (~600-1,000 words) that clarify some issue of public interest and great community initiatives.
  • Take photos for each of your stories (see below for more on this)
  • Become extremely interested in what’s happening around the Mahoning Valley, including following what happens at community meetings and reading around the area and social media for features on individuals.
  • Develop good rapport with many sources, especially in all areas that typically have a good community reputation.
  • Create an ongoing list of story ideas, triage them for timeliness and impact, and help prepare some of them as assignments to freelancers

Competencies and experience

  • Demonstrated record or strong potential to deliver the above objectives (your cover note should demonstrate this)
  • Beginning and/or Experienced reporting in a newsroom or a freelancer
  • Strong ability to find information, whether by filing the necessary documentation to get what is needed or calling everyone
  • Organized, meticulous and anxious to avoid fact errors
  • Flexible and able to find solutions when things don’t go just as expected
  • Interested in everything, eager to learn and willing to go the extra mile to dig up information that will tie your story together
  • Proficient in modern apps.
  • Photography experience is preferred but not required.

Application process

  • First, submit your resume, references, and a cover letter to Don’t overthink the cover letter. Just let us know who you are and why you’d be great at this job. This is a great time to ask any questions you have about the role. Feel free to email us with questions.
  • Within one-two weeks, we’ll let you know if you’ve been shortlisted for the position. (On going accepting of applications)
  • Once we have a strong shortlist of candidates, we’ll send invitations for a conversation with via a video Google call.
  • As a final step, you will have the opportunity to meet with one or more members of the Spanning the Need board of advisers.
Santa Clause is Coming to the Eastwood Mall for the Holiday Season

Santa Clause is Coming to the Eastwood Mall for the Holiday Season

Santa Clause is coming to town and you can join him on Saturday, November 12 from 10am – 1pm at the Eastwood Mall. You can experience the magic of Christmas for the kids as they kick off the Holiday Season.

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Join them at Center Court for the festive activities:

  • 10am: Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Kick-Off. Three schools in the area are competing by decorating their kettles in one of the 12 days of Christmas themes. We encourage shoppers to stop by and vote on their favorite kettle!
  • 11am: The Ballet Western Reserve will get everyone in the holiday spirit with a performance from The Nutcracker.
  • 11:45am: Mix 98.9 giveaways!
  • 12:15pm: Don’t miss Jack Frost and the Magical Snow Queen on stage for an unforgettable story time and sing-a-long performance. Jack Frost, the Snow Queen, and Santa are all in an ice castle at the North Pole and it’s frozen over! How will Santa deliver his presents this year? Be here to help them unfreeze the North Pole!
  • 1pm: Santa arrives from the North Pole!

It’s the season to deliver cheer through the Army of Toys Toy Drive.  The Salvation Army, Midas and Mix 98.9 are asking for donations to make Christmas merry for less fortunate children in our area. From November 12 through December 18, bring a new, unwrapped toy to the drop-off location in Center Court.  By doing so, you’ll be entered to win a $500 Eastwood Mall shopping spree

You can check out everything happening at the Eastwood Mall Complex and when you can catch Santa by clicking here.

Check out our #STNQuoteoftheWeek & #STNQuoteoftheDay 2022

POTW: Derrick McDowell, Youngstown Flea & Wean Park

POTW: Derrick McDowell, Youngstown Flea & Wean Park

Each week, #SpanningtheNeed will present an “Inspirational Person of the Week’ and have a “Q & A” with one of its many gifted individuals and/or groups who are willing to go out of their own way to help others. This week’s featured is Derrick McDowell from Youngstown Flea & Wean Park.

Nominate Someone Now!

Name:  Derrick McDowell
Position:  Founder of The Youngstown Flea
Organization: Community Engagement & Inclusion Coordinator of Wean Park
Bio: Derrick McDowell, a native son of the Southside of Youngstown, Oh and a graduate of Chaney High School, is a passionate creative, public speaker, community activist & entrepreneur. He takes his undying love for the people of the City of YOUngstown, and his desire to show them their value, worth and significance, into everything he does.

From developing the movement known as “We Are A Generation” a collective “call to action” for communities, to his efforts as the Founder of The Youngstown Flea (a once-per-month “Market for Makers” with the focus of a micro-incubator ecosystem and an economically sustainable platform to assist small business owners and successful brands alike), to his role as Community Engagement & Inclusion Coordinator with the Wean Park Complex, to his TEDx Youngstown appearance — Derrick constantly looks for ways to deliver as much impact as possible.

What made you want to go into this field?
A deep love for the people of the City of Youngstown  

What’s the biggest factor that has helped you be successful?
Hope. Love. Faith.

What is the biggest professional mistake you made along the way?
Not truly knowing myself.

What is the hardest decision you ever had to make in this field?
Not really sure.


If you could start all over again, what would you do differently regarding your profession?
I would have worked to “find myself” much sooner, so that the work I was doing THEN, would be done in  a much more “authentic-to-being-me” degree.

What inspires you to do good in our community?
The people who so deserve it.

What do you enjoy most about volunteering in our community?
I would humbly submit that I am no volunteer. I’m vested in our community. It is the joy of truly seeking to serve the people of Youngstown is my honor and pleasure.

What song best describes you or is the soundtrack to your life?
Maybe I live too crazy of a life to be summed up in a song or soundtrack; lol!

What is your best accomplishment/experience in life?
Finding my faith, which guides me.

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Who is your role model and Why?
My Mother and brothers. A hero to me, is someone who takes the impact for another. My mom and brother’s took great impact in this life, to protect me and it ultimately allowed me to be who I am today.

If there was one person that you would like to meet, past or present and why?
God. I’ve got a few questions.

A favorite quote that you live by?
To whom much is given, much is required.