Holiday shopping spotlights COVID-19's impact on small businesses

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By KYW Newsradio

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Some people are seeking out small businesses at which to shop for Small Business Saturday, and many are noticing just how crucial their dollars are for the survival of these shops.

The start of the holiday shopping season in Old City was unlike previous years.

Andrew Campbell, who manages a small distillery and bar supply shop called Art in the Age, said they're trying to keep their shopping experience as safely normal as possible.

"We're following all the capacity restrictions that we need to follow," he said, adding that luckily, they have a lot of longtime customers supporting them.

"Even still," Campbell said, "a lot of longtime businesses are having a hard time right now and we are not exempt from that."

Isabel Calvanese of Abington took a day trip with her family to do a little shopping at the small stores in Old City.

"I think you can find unique products in small businesses compared to big, corporate companies," she said. "It's a lot of the same stuff. It's not unique and like, heartfelt."

But Calvanese noted a lot of her favorite small shops were closed.

"It's just really sad," she mused. "I mean, (Small Business Saturday) is supposed to be a big day for small businesses and a lot of them aren't really open."

Campbell said his business is trying to innovate. "We're trying to just stay as relevant as possible with all those different ways that you can order," he said.

But with so many businesses dependent on foot traffic, Old City resident Mary Beth Gasman worries about what will happen to real estate, the economy and their standard of living if they don't make it through the coronavirus.

"You can see boarded-up places. There are lots of places that have gone out of business," she observed.

"If there aren't any shops and places to eat, and coffee shops and bakeries and dry cleaning, and places to get your pet groomed," Gasman said, "then people aren't going to want to live here."