Triad chambers of commerce work to get shoppers back in small businesses safely

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A lot of families get a start on their holiday shopping, and local businesses are hoping more shoppers will pay them a visit this year. 

Local businesses had a tough year between shutdowns, and fewer customers because of the pandemic. Those tough times for local stores also mean hard times for the local economy. So across the Piedmont there’s a push to support neighborhood stores.

The High Point Economic Development Corporation says shopping from locally-owned stores means a larger percentage of the money gets put back into the local economy. The High Point Chamber of Commerce is helping promote small businesses on social media. 

There are similar efforts throughout the region. In Alamance County the Chamber of Commerce is running the Open and Safe Campaign. It’s a pledge from the businesses saying they are screening their employees for any symptoms of COVID 19, making sure they are equipped with the proper personal protective equipment, and monitoring social distancing in stores among other safety measures. This initiative is meant to encourage shoppers to visit local stores, while also knowing there are measures in place to keep them safe.

The Greensboro Chamber of Commerce is also pushing people to stop by the stores in their community before turning to big box retailers. It has a Look Local First Directory up and running where people can see all of the stores that are open easily, and to help shopping local more convenient. 

That’s something local business owners are trying to tell customers too. Sarah Beth Davis and Anna Cromer own Wynnie’s Boutique in High Point. They say convenience is key for customers. 

“But I think people forget that yes I can order something and wait for two days and get it, but I can also run out to Main Street and get something the same day,” Davis said.

At their store, they are hoping for a successful holiday season. Their baby and children’s boutique opened just a few months ago.

“It’s a little nerve wracking, but we’re trying to make it as safe as possible for everyone to come shopping, and even staying inside and shopping on the computer. We’re trying to make it welcoming here so they feel like they can come shop here.” Cromer said.

That’s meant getting creative with how to make sure customers can easily shop in person and online too.
“We’re kind of taking a page out of other businesses that are near us. We’re taking a page out of their book by offering virtual shopping and curbside pick up. We’ve seen a lot of businesses even doing local delivery and things like that. It’s been encouraging to watch them pivot and get creative because we want to be here to provide that personal service and that level of personal care that small businesses can do,” Davis said.
They are also partnering with neighboring businesses, helping promote others, while offering discounts on some of their own items for holiday shoppers. 
“This year obviously has been a hard year and a hard hit year for so many businesses. I think now more than ever it’s so important to support your own. The businesses that make communities like ours in High Point, that make us special and set us apart, that’s what our small businesses do for this area,” Davis said.

There are also state wide guidelines local businesses are expected to follow. These include limiting occupancy inside to fifty percent, making sure social distance markers are out in high traffic areas, requiring face coverings for employees and customers, and heightened cleaning protocols.

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