As the coronavirus pandemic forces small businesses on the South Shore to adapt to changing safety guidelines and restrictions, owners are gearing up for Small Business Saturday and are thankful that people are shopping locally this year.
At Bella Sei in Braintree, co-owner Chanell Conway Smith reopened the store in the past two months and has been preparing for the holiday season by stocking the shelves with seasonal gifts such as socks, cookie cutters and decorative signs.
The store typically sells signs, wine glasses, shirts, candles and other small gifts branded with the names and zip codes of South Shore towns, including Braintree, Weymouth and Quincy.
Smith said customers have been slowly returning to the store, but the customer base that shops at Bella Sei is typically older and therefore more at risk for the coronavirus.
“It’s been really hard,” Smith said.
Smith said she doesn’t think Small Business Saturday has been promoted or marketed as much this year as in previous years, and not many shoppers have mentioned it to her.
“So I don’t think that it will be a big hit this year because people are so focused on being at home,” Smith said. “They’re doing a good job as far as our safety, but I think they’re definitely focused on being at home.”
The lack of parking has made it difficult for customers to shop at her store, Smith said, as nearby hair salons and spas require customers to wait in their cars until their appointments.
Supporting small business
At Maggie’s Dog House in Hingham, owner Kim Sylvester said business has been good as people become more comfortable shopping locally and at small businesses rather than at bigger stores.
Sylvester said her focus was on preparing for the holidays early. She ordered her products before the pandemic and her Christmas items have been on the shelves.
Because of the rising number of coronavirus cases in the state, Sylvester will be allowing only four people inside the store at a time.
Judy Varney, owner of RSVP in Hingham, a stationery and card store, said that while she has to compete with online vendors, people are shopping locally and supporting small businesses.
Varney said she typically holds a promotion on the weekend of Black Friday and Small Business Saturday, when she offers a 20 percent discount on holiday cards.
Varney said people are eager to send holidays cards this year and connect with people, more so than in previous years.
Katie Raimondi, of Quincy, runs The Gifted Heart out of her home and usually attends about 25 events a year to sell her items, including the Quincy Square Winter Market, which was canceled because of the rising number of coronavirus cases.
Raimondi sells accessories such as jewelry, hand bags, scarves, gloves and hats.
For Small Business Saturday, Raimondi will be posting items all day in The Gifted Heart Steal of the Day Facebook group, where she typically posts items on Wednesdays at 8 p.m to her roughly 630 members. Customers will receive a $10 gift card with every $50 purchase on Small Business Saturday.
“Now it’s more than ‘let’s just clear out the last one or two,'” Raimondi said about her Wednesday night sales. “This is a chance to really sell on it.”
Raimondi said she offers quick local delivery.
About Small Business Saturday
Small Business Saturday, which is a registered trademark of American Express, was first observed Nov. 27, 2010. It is held the Saturday after Thanksgiving and encourages holiday shoppers to patronize small, local brick-and-mortar businesses.
This article originally appeared on The Patriot Ledger: As businesses prepare for Small Business Saturday, owners appreciate local support