The effects of COVID-19 have been felt by small business owners since the start of the pandemic nearly one year ago and as the holiday season approaches business owners are still seeing a lack of customers in what is supposed to be their busiest time of the year.
In downtown Prior Lake there is a focus to support the locally-owned businesses that line the streets by reminding residents to consider purchasing local goods and services when they go out to do their Christmas shopping.
According to the Prior Lake Chamber of Commerce, out of every $100 spent locally, $68 stays in Prior Lake whereas when spending in a chain store only $43 stays in town.
Local business feels pandemic pinchPrior Lake boutique Wild Ruffle is among the many small businesses who have been impacted by the pandemic and the restrictions that have come along with it. It’s been a challenging battle since the beginning, Wild Ruffle co-owner Tammy Hiveley said.
Community members have showed their support for small business throughout the months but as the holiday shopping season approaches, shop sales just don’t compare to the years past, she said.
“This fourth quarter this fall when it’s supposed to be our busiest time of the year has been really like a first quarter sales, so it’s been rough to order new things to keep our stores full and stocked without the sales coming in,” Hiveley said.
Like many shops, Wild Ruffle has had to adapt and upped their online presence so customers have the option to shop from home. Goods can be shipped, picked up in-store, curbside and in some instances even dropped off.
Hiveley said she feels blessed for the support she has seen from the community which is “crucial” during these times and helps to keep the doors of small businesses open.
“Our hope is that we see people buying their Christmas presents with us and shopping downtown and not forgetting that we’re here,” Hiveley said.
Downtown Prior Lake has experienced a lot of growth in the last several years and Hiveley would like to see it continue to become a destination spot for nearby shoppers despite the pandemic, she said.
“2020 is different and we want to get back to where we were in 2019, where we were a destination spot,” Hiveley said. “If we don’t continue to support all of these little shops it will go back to where we were years ago without any commerce downtown.”
‘Eat local. Shop local. Stay local.’The community can help support local businesses by purchasing the one-of-a-kind and locally made items offered in Prior Lake stores and can do so safely in-person, online and through pickup services offered by the businesses, Chamber President Sandi Fleck said.
Downtown Prior Lake offers a unique experience for shoppers with the variety of businesses from boutiques to breweries to studios and services. In these unprecedented times these businesses need the support of the community more than ever, Fleck said.
“Think about buying locally because they’re the ones that were here for us before COVID and we want them to be here after,” Fleck said. “The owners of those shops live locally, they worship locally, they also shop locally. It’s just being supportive of your friends, neighbors and relatives.
”To help support local businesses the chamber is hosting a Gift Card — Golden Ticket Giveaway.Through Dec. 13, community members can purchase gift cards to participating downtown businesses such as Stems & Vines, Edelweiss, Fong’s and more to be entered into a drawing for the golden ticket of $500 of chamber bucks. Every $25 spent is an entry into the drawing which will take place Dec. 16. Gift cards can be purchased at priorlakechamber.com and will be mailed out.