HAMPTON ROADS, Va. – On Small Business Saturday, consumers are encouraged to shop small and support local businesses.
Thousands of small businesses have been hit hard since COVID-19 began in March.
A recent survey from Retail Alliance shows sales have dropped for a majority of retailers in Hampton Roads during the pandemic. The survey was conducted in early November with 93 small businesses and showed 1 in 5 shops (23%) dropped to 25-50 percent of pre-COVID sales.
That’s the reason why Mark Brooks of Virginia Beach said he’s compelled to shop locally.
“We love supporting small business, local business,” said Brooks. “My mother-in-law’s a small business owner and we just like getting out here and taking care of the locals.”
While some local businesses, such as NYFO Boutique in Norfolk had little foot traffic Saturday, others in The Palace Shops saw the opposite.
Decorum Furniture Store Manager Shawn Griffey said Saturday’s sales have been similar to last year.
“We’ve had some nice little rushes,” he said. “People have been getting out and spending money. People aren’t traveling. People aren’t eating in restaurants. People are nesting and staying in a pod, so what they’re doing is now justifying the use of a sofa because they’re home more.”
At The Creative Wedge in the Hilltop West Shopping Center in Virginia Beach, Co-owner Barbara Densley was worried when the day started out slow, but things quickly picked up.
“Our customers started coming out for us and it came in waves,” Densley said. “We’d get really, really busy. It was crazy and then it would slow down for a while. Before the end of the day, we were pretty close to last year’s numbers, so we’re absolutely thrilled.”
The small business could use the boost after Densley said they lost 60 to 80 percent of sales during the first three months of the pandemic.
We’re still struggling a bit. We’re not really making our rent in full yet,” she said. “We’re just kind of hanging in there, hoping for the best.”
At The Creative Wedge, customers can find unique, handmade goods they might not be able to find at a big retailer.
“Today it seemed like a lot of people were here for our ornaments,” she said. “People were also buying pottery and the cheese. They always come in for the cheese.”
Densley is hoping people remember to shop small not just on the one day but every day, especially after the holidays are over.
“We’re a little nervous about the beginning of the year when things drop off after the holidays,” said Densley. “We just kind of have to keep doing our thing. Get the word out. We’re here. We need your help. We would love to see you again.”