Small business Saturday pandemic shows benefits of consolidation
ORLANDO, Florida – Christina Hollerbach’s Willow Tree CafÃ© in Sanford celebrates its 20th anniversary.
Meanwhile, Hollerbach said she saw the Sanford Town Center Historic District grow, but she said the COVID-19 pandemic is what really brought Sanford businesses together.
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âWhen bad things happen you find good things because it unites people towards a common goal,â said Hollerbach, who is also chairman of the Sanford Main Street business group.
âWe restored Main Street in Sanford in 2019, so the timing is crucial. We made sure to talk to each other and talk about the CARES Act and the PPP every month, âHollerbach said.
The struggles of small businesses in 2020 are well known. A study by the Federal Reserve found that the pandemic had shut down about 200,000 more businesses than the annual average.
âI think we have discovered through the pandemic how important small businesses are to the economy,â Hollerbach said. âStaying home and shopping on Amazon costs so many jobs. So it is very important that we shop from these local businesses because they really are the backbone of our company.
Companies hope for a boost Small Business Saturday, and many of central Florida’s main street groups come together to turn the day into a commercial event.
In Sanford, shoppers can get a special trade passport at the downtown information center. Those who visit each of the participating businesses and hand in the passport are entered to win a Christmas wreath filled with gift certificates from local stores.
that of Orlando Audubon Park Gardens District organize a sip and walk on Saturday afternoon. With admission, shoppers can browse vendors and sample wine, craft beer, and cider at neighborhood stops.
Jennifer Marvel, Executive Director of the Garden District of Audubon Park, has promoted the hip enclave and its businesses with newsletters, social media and events like Sip and Stroll. But with the pandemic, the agency has had to shift gears to help businesses transition to COVID-19 protocols, as well as to secure grants and loans to stay afloat.
While many of those same COVID-19 protocols are a thing of the past in Florida, the effects of the pandemic are still manifested in a shortage of workers, as well as supply chain issues.
âPerhaps the biggest challenge for small businesses right now is the supply chain and the parcel delivery system. Marvel said. âIt takes longer for goods to arrive at businesses, while simultaneously it takes longer for shipped goods to reach their customers (including USPS, UPS and FedEx). Buying local means your goods are right there, and not stuck in a freight container, however! “
âSmall businesses have really suffered from the pandemic, so we need people more than ever to support their local businesses,â Marvel added. âLocal businesses are doing so much to support the local community. If people like the flavor of their neighborhood, they should be supporting the local businesses that have made it so. “
American Express has started Small Business Saturday 2010 as part of the Shop Small movement.
The campaign gained ground with American buyers. According to National Retail Federation, 58.1 million people plan to shop on Saturdays, fewer buyers than in 2020. However, a higher percentage of those buyers, 82.3%, plan to shop at small businesses.
American Express helps promote the day with a website, as well as sending packages of materials such as bags, stickers, flyers and more.
According to Sarah Shoulak, the new executive director of the Curry Ford West As the main area of ââOrlando, business groups are better able to pool their resources and get more help from organizations like American Express than individual businesses.
âThe concept of the rising tide makes all ships go up,â Shulak said. âIf the neighborhood improves, then we help everyone who contributes. “
âThere is a cohesion in the neighborhood where they see the bags, the posters and the stickers and it encourages and reminds people to shop small,â she added.
Cohesion has become important during the pandemic, according to the three business group leaders. Christina Hollerbach says cohesion has been instrumental in keeping businesses going during the pandemic, as government and other business groups do not always communicate about the kind of help available, especially financial.
âYou don’t realize there’s a lot of help out there so that’s one of the things we’re trying to do,â Hollerbach said.
âBusinesses need a consistent message,â Shoulak said. âHaving a unified resource helps them, but (the pandemic really) makes it difficult to plan for the future because small businesses want to plan and grow. “
As for the Curry Ford West district, no major event is planned for Small Business on Saturday. The group has gone through a leadership change that has made planning difficult, but executives have said they plan to do something next year. For the moment, they have instead been promoting the day in neighborhood businesses in recent weeks.
âI think that’s something we’re going to tackle for 2022, and that’s communication,â Shoulak said. “I think we felt separated and we don’t need to feel separated anymore.”
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