Small businesses hope to boost struggling sales with support of holiday shoppers

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CLEVELAND (WJW) — Black Friday shopping for many folks is as big a tradition as a turkey on the Thanksgiving table. And that was still a big thing for many shoppers who came out to area malls and stores to scoop up deals.

According to the National Retail Federation, holiday sales in the middle of this pandemic are still expected to be up between 3.5 and 5.5 percent.

But going into a store may not be the first option. About 60 percent of surveyed shoppers say that they will order more online.

But what about businesses that usually don’t have a large online presence?

This weekend, about 12,000 people would normally attend the huge Christmas market held at 78th Street studios in Gordon Square. In-person shopping is not an option this year.

So the pandemic is hurting the smallest of small businesses.

“A lot of our artists lost a significant portion of their income this year. A lot of them, this is their only job, they don’t have a backup, it’s been really economically difficult, so the challenge is there to make up this income at this time of year, ” said Cleveland Bazzar Director Shannon Otey.

“We had a couple of our favorite small businesses not make it and that’s been heartbreaking,” CraftyMart organizer Marrissa McClellen said.

Both women deal with hundreds of local artists and crafts people.

And Black Friday is very important this year for these small businesses because the pandemic caused the cancellation of summer events and shows where many of these vendors show off thier goods.

So Cleveland Bazaar and CraftyMart along with I Made It market in Pittsburgh pooled their resources to take their traditional holiday markets online.

They created an interactive catalog featuring items from different vendors, some of which for the first time are now selling online because they can’t sell in person.

And they’ve added a personal component where customers can meet the creators through a special event site on Facebook.

And that personal component is incredibly important.

With handmade crafts sometimes it’s the personality of the artists that will help carry the sale because unlike shopping at a retail store you get to meet the person who actually made the item.

And for many of these folks they need local support now more than ever, along with all local businesses who need their communities to help them survive a difficult time.

“Sixty eight dollars out of every 100 dollars spent locally stays locally, if you buy something from a maker it’s from that maker. You’re making their mortgage payment, you’re not buying another boat for Jeff Bezos, so it’s really important to spend as much of your money locally,” Otey said.

The online catalog will be available until the end of the year.

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