All together now

Southside businesses join forces after lengthy Sagamore Creek Bridge closure

Inspired by the West End (see story on page 6), businesses on the south side of the Sagamore Creek Bridge in Portsmouth are also banding together to support and promote each other with a monthly event.

Since the Sagamore Creek Bridge closed for repairs in November 2013, area businesses have struggled as fewer customers make it into the neighborhood. The Drift Gallery at the Wentworth-Coolidge Mansion postponed its remaining 2014 exhibitions because of the construction. The bridge was initially scheduled to re-open on Dec. 1, but is now scheduled to re-open later this month.

Sabrina Hosse opened Brie’s Boutique, next door to the Golden Egg just before the bridge closed.  Her shop sells vintage and modern clothing, accessories and housewares and art created by local residents of “all abilities.”

“My saving grace has been (that) the (Golden) Egg maintained their base because, they have been in business for 32 years and we have been able to draw a bit from their business and cultivate some regulars,” Hosse said.  “If not for local regulars, we would not be in business.”

Hosse said that after she saw the West End begin branding itself in order to attract new customers, she thought the south side (not to be confused with the South End neighborhood) needed to do something similar. In the last year, she’s worked on connecting south side businesses in order to create an identity for the neighborhood.

“The collaboration is good because we have also gotten to know each other through these intimate meetings – they can learn what I have and I can send someone to a nearby business instead of across the bridge,” Hosse said.

The group’s first event, the Sagamore South Side Saturday Shopping Extravaganza, is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 13, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Businesses participating include Seaport Fish, New England Thrift Group and Sweet Caroline’s Thrift Shop, The Golden Egg, the Atlantic Grill, Serenity Café, Brit Bits, Inc., Rye Floor Fashions and Summer House Furnishings.

The collaboration is good because we have also gotten to know each other through these intimate meetings.

Hosse will have wine and appetizers for visitors, as well as an artists’ reception and piano ambience provided by local Ray DeMarco.  Other businesses will host their own special events and offerings, and all of the businesses have contributed to
a raffle prize.

Trudy Sutherland, owner of New England Thrift Group, said part of the goal is to remind people there are still businesses on the south side of the bridge struggling to stay afloat.

Like Hosse, Sutherland said local regulars have helped her shop survive. Businesses on the south side didn’t receive the same sort of exposure that Kittery Foreside received when the Memorial Bridge was closed, Sutherland said. That’s why banding together has been vital.

“We’re all in the same boat.  When you have a business out in the middle of nowhere you are not going to do as well as when you create a small business corridor and create a reason for people to come to all our stores — it benefits everybody,” she said.