COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Small business owners in central Ohio have been sitting on the edge of their seats for months now, waiting to see what the holiday shopping season will bring.
Between Black Friday and Small Business Saturday, these stores do a significant amount of their annual business, but they are worried they won’t see success like in previous years.
Normally, the Short North would be bustling, restaurants packed and shopping bags on everyone’s arm. But this year doesn’t quite look that way.
Even though the foot traffic isn’t there, that doesn’t mean local businesses aren’t seeing sales.
People like Jamie Wagers said despite COVID-19 concerns, they would rather visit local stores than shop online.
“I still like to try things on, so I still found myself shopping in store also,” Wagers said.
But clearly it isn’t everyone that feels comfortable following her lead.
“This year during COVID, I don’t think we’re going to see crowds,” said Stephanie Tersigini, owner of Jolie Boutique. “However, I think we’ll still get some shoppers in.”
Tersigni said she sees a major fraction of their sales during the holiday season so she is hoping people come out to show their support.
Travis Samson, owner of Samson on High Street, expects business will be down because of COVID-19 concerns, so he’s grateful they had a website up and running before the pandemic happened.
“It’s tough,” Samson explained. “I spent a lot of money on my website I would not have had this year.”
But other local small business owners like Samantha Cowan have focused only on her website, where she’s recently seen success but is still worried about competing with larger companies.
“I think it’s a tossup between the convivence and the price,” she said. “A lot of the sales are hard to compete with when you’re a small business.”
Cowan does notice the community rallying behind businesses like hers more than usual.
“I have noticed a lot of influencers and local people in Columbus really make an effort to support local,” Cowan said. “Even just saying they’re going to shop local.”
And shoppers like Wagers hopes everyone else takes notice.
“I think during this year, more than ever, we need to make sure we’re supporting local businesses that got hit pretty hard during the closure,” she said.
One major plus for these small businesses is that there won’t be the OSU vs. Michigan game Saturday, which historically falls on Small Business Saturday.