TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - When shopping for holiday gifts this year, Local First Arizona hopes shoppers spend at least 10% of their dollars in local businesses.
This year especially since the coronavirus has already, by some estimates, forced more than 100,000 businesses to shutter their doors and lay off their employees.
“It’s not a cliche to say shop local is more important now that ever, it really is in these Covid-19 times” said Michael Peel, the Statewide Sustainability Director at Local First Arizona. “The pandemic has hit our small businesses really hard.”
At the beginning of the pandemic in March, the state closed down most walk-in businesses which led to thousands of closures.
And for others, in order to survive, they have to change their business model.
One of those which did, is Popcycle on Fourth Avenue.
“At first we had an online store which wasn’t merged with our in-house store,” said Libby Tobey, co-owner of Popcycle. “Merging those two stores, and we did it ourselves, was a challenge.”
But now, with the store limited to a maximum of eight shoppers at a time, it finds the online world has become its salvation.
The store delivers, ships and has curbside pickup for online orders, something it had to adapt to. With a surge now raging, many stores worry about what comes next and online may save the holiday season.
“We do worry about our neighbors and the safety of everyone in our community, Tobey said. “But we do foresee we’ll be around for a long, long time.”
With free shipping and screaming online deals at the big box retailers, Amazon and others, it makes it difficult for the small guys to keep up.
Which is why spending a few dollars at local establishments levels the playing field a bit.
“Small businesses are needing the support to compete with the big retailers and Amazon which has been a real challenge in the past,” Peel said. “Now with the pandemic and these factors, it’s critical that we help them get past the first of the year.”
Local First says for every $100 spent in local stores, $43 of it stays local to pay for police, fire, roads and other services.
For $100 spent in a big box store, only $13 stays here.
“When we have more dollars spent here, that circulates through the local economy,” Peel said. “It creates more jobs, it creates more support for small business and services here locally.”