QUINCY — Although her store has only been open for about three weeks, Katie Kline, co-owner of Avie & J children’s boutique at 630 Maine, said she has definitely noticed a decrease in foot traffic leading into National Small Business Saturday.
However, the upcoming annual event to encourage shoppers to support independent local businesses has left her excited and hopeful that the word travels about small businesses in need.
“We’re three boutiques in one, and we each have our own websites and (customers) are more than welcome to shop online on our websites and then we are offering curbside pick-up,” Kline said. “So they can come place an order online, pay for it and then we’ll have it ready to go for them. They just need to contact us when they’ll be here.”
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has contributed to hardships for small businesses ranging from reduced store hours to temporary and permanent closures, Bruce Guthrie, executive director of the District, said Small Business Saturday is even more important in 2020.
“These are your friends, these are your families (and) these are your neighbors that own these businesses,” Guthrie said. “These are hardworking entrepreneurs that are creating great relationships among the community and supporting the community.”
Bobbie Sullivan, owner of Sullivan’s Antiques and More at 900 Hampshire, said she is concerned about the unpredictability of business due to COVID-19 but is remaining optimistic.
“I actually have customers that come in here as a family tradition,” Sullivan said. “They have family in from out of town from Virginia and the state of Washington, and for these families, it’s a part of their thing the day after Thanksgiving to do here. But I don’t know what to expect this year.”
Small Business Saturday has been observed for the last 10 years as a local alternative to the Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping holidays. Most stores will offer deals for area shoppers.
Kline said she is offering a special gift for the first 15 customers who come through the door and make a purchase, Sullivan said she runs a monthlong sale through November on certain items. Suzy Schwartz, owner of District Designs, said she offers 15% off anything in the store on Saturday.
But store owners also are taking extra precautions to protect shoppers from COVID-19. Schwartz said she will have hand sanitizer stations set up and will ensure customers are wearing face masks.
For bars and restaurants that have had to close indoor service due to state mitigation efforts, Guthrie recommended buying gift cards once these business fully re-open. He added that curbside service is great for restaurants unable to serve food indoors, but it only accounts for about a third of its usual business.
Guthrie also encouraged shoppers to call local retailers for any concerns related to health and safety, curbside services, online shopping and any other inquiries.
“It takes a little extra work but give (businesses) a call about their options and I’m sure they’ll work with you,” he said. “Anything you want is right here in the Quincy community.”