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Why Mom-and-Pop Shops are Struggling this Holiday Season (and How to Help)
Throughout the development of the new normal we’re living in, much has pivoted, for better or worse. Many entrepreneurs and small business owners have had to shift gears to keep up with the changes, and rightfully so. According to new studies, the average American consumer has turned to online purchases almost entirely. For now, it seems the days of perusing locally-owned boutiques and window shopping at corner antique stores are on hold. Many consumers are also not planning to change their new shopping habits with the holiday season, which is business that many small, locally-owned brick and mortar stores depended upon in previous years. However, whether you plan on shopping online for the holidays or not, there might still be some ways you can help these small businesses in your community.
Find Out if You Can Safely Shop In-Person
First of all, let’s not jump to conclusions and assume that these local business owners haven’t implemented in-store safety measures. Check out their website or social media pages to find out what they’ve changed about shopping in their stores since reopening. Most brick and mortar stores will have implemented store policies so that shoppers must wear masks, offer hand sanitizer to use while you shop, and require that customers socially distance from one another.
If you’re comfortable with the measures they’ve taken, choose a low-traffic day for the store and stop on by to find that perfect gift for the holiday season.
If you want to be extra careful and vigilant, see if the store is listed on Google. When you see the options to select between the overview, posts, and reviews about the store, select “overview”.
Under this tab, you’ll be able to read about the store’s visit data. These are analytics provided by Google that allows you to view a store’s most popular visiting hours and days versus lower traffic times and days. If you want to be more cautious, use these analytics to find out exactly when is the best time to go and when there will be the least amount of other shoppers present.
See if the Store Has an Online Shopping Option
Some stores have pivoted and now offer new online shopping and e-commerce options. This means you can still support your favorite local shop without leaving home.
Many stores opened Etsy and eBay stores to keep up with the online shopping boom, so these e-commerce storefronts would be the first places to look. Make sure to also check out the store’s website, social media, Facebook, Instagram, or whatever they use to keep in touch with the community. This is where you’ll often find information about their online storefront or shipping options.
If you’re not sure what the best shopping option is for you and you can’t find information online, call the store and see what you can discover. You can ask about whether or not they have an online store and you can also ask about in-person shopping policies (as mentioned above).
Establish a Community Spotlight Event
If you’re passionate about helping small businesses in your area or own a small business yourself, find out about how you can throw a community spotlight event. The event could focus on locally-owned businesses and how the community can support them. Most consumers don’t want their local mom-and-pops to go away, they just don’t realize how the pivot to e-commerce might have affected them in the long-term.
Get with your community organizers, city hall, or HOA and look into hosting such an event. A virtual community get-together hosted on a platform like Zoom would be the perfect way to bring everyone together and inform them about these issues.
You can also connect with some of the local businesses you’re spotlighting to find out the best ways to support them right now. If they want to signal-boost their new store policies or online shopping options, this is the perfect way to do it.