Offering unique products and excellent customer service can help small businesses survive and thri

By: Donna Flaherty, Owner, Gifts Afloat, St. Clair Shores

It doesn’t matter whether you are a small independently owned gift shop or a Fortune 500 department store giant like Macy’s.  The shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas almost always determine whether you make it or break it.


Gifts Afloat on the Nautical Mile is one of nearly 1,600 independently owned retail locations in Macomb County

At Gifts Afloat on the Nautical Mile in St. Clair Shores, we have been hard at work prepping for Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and the shopping frenzy that follows.  Our shelves are stocked with unique, high quality and distinctive gifts.  And equally important, our staff is prepared to provide the utmost in customer service.

That’s the recipe for success for small businesses these days.  We cannot always compete on price with the big chains.  But we can and do give customers a reason to visit and shop at our store year after year.

We have been in business since 1976, and I can point to many customers who have been with me since the start.   We specialize in water-related gifts, such as books, ties, décor, clothing, artwork, accessories and much more.

Many of our customers who shop our store on Black Friday or Small Business Saturday are from out-of-town.  We get people who are visiting family and friends from far-away places like Chicago, San Diego and the Chesapeake Bay area.  They want to get a jump on their Holiday shopping, and enjoy the shopping experience at our quaint little store.

Buying gifts for people is often a difficult thing.  But the many specialty products we offer make it easy, especially if the person you are buying for loves the water.

We are proud to be located on the Nautical Mile in St. Clair Shores, and we our equally proud to “Make Macomb Our Home.”  We have been recruited to move our business in the past to busier commercial districts like the Village in Grosse Pointe or downtown Birmingham. But our repeat customers – many of whom come from the Grosse Pointes, Birmingham, Ann Arbor and beyond – tell us to stay where we are.  They like coming to the “Mile” to get that nautical flavor!

We’ve noticed that the economy has been on the upswing, and hope that all Macomb County businesses – big or small – enjoy robust sales this Holiday season and share in the rebound.

About the author: Donna Flaherty is the owner of Gifts Afloat, located at 24601 Jefferson in St. Clair Shores.  For more information, visit their website at

From the MMYH team: Make Macomb Your home is encouraging shoppers to visit local retailors this season. We’ve added a comprehensive list of locally owned independent retailers on the MMYH website! Find Gifts Afloat and many more by clicking here!

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