Tucson businesses shift to e-commerce as pandemic takes toll

YWCA is helping administer $2 million in grants available for small businesses.

Businesses moving online

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Small businesses are shifting to online sales as COVID-19 forces them to shut their doors, but one local business owner is finding new ways to beat the pandemic.

“I was fighting to keep my business alive and I remember I only sold one purse in a month, " said Adela Artisan Made owner, Alexa Rodriguez.

Rodriguez sells artisan handbags from Mexico. A business she said is not only her dream and passion, but also her family’s dream and grandma’s history.

Before the pandemic hit, she would set up her merchandise at pop-up events where she educated customers about her products. But sales went down when she was forced to pivot those interactions to a screen.

“It was just very difficult to get my story, the value of my products across social media,” Rodriguez said.

After six months of working on moving business online, she finally made her first sale yesterday.

“To build a website is not only to build a platform- it’s to get shipping, packaging, labels,” she added.

While no income has been coming in from her business, bills are still piling up.

“I have to spend at least 600 to 700 a month from fixed cost that my business has, and I wasn’t selling $700,” she said.

Rodriguez fears small businesses will never be the same.

“Even when it goes away it’s going to take a long time for us to adapt and lose that fear of human contact, and we have to be ready to make online our new normal,” said Rodriguez.

She’s also a business coach at the non-profit YWCA in Tucson and is providing free help to business owners as they transition to electronic commerce.

“We provide help personalized. So let’s say you have a business- okay let’s do a logo, a marketing strategy. Let’s take better pictures of your product. We have cameras here, we help them create a logo, a branding.”

Right now the YWCA is helping administer $2 million in grants available for small businesses. Officials said owners could get up to $10,000 from this money. To apply visit https://ywcatucson.org/

Small business owners could also qualify for up to $4,000 on utility assistances through these grants.

Copyright 2020 KOLD News 13. All rights reserved.