ERIE COUNTY N.Y. (WIVB) – Local businesses throughout Erie County are preparing for one of the busiest shopping days, Small Business Saturday. The all day shopping event usually draws in large crowds to locally owned businesses. During the coronavirus pandemic stores have to be careful more shoppers doesn’t equal to more spread.
“We’re asking everyone to wear masks like they’ve been used to doing. We’ve sanitized things throughout the store we ask you hand sanitize when you come in,” said Rachel Murszewski who owns Village Artisans in Williamsville.
“There is a maximum limit to the stores and most of the businesses have figured out and you have to bare in mind, it’s not just what we’re legally allowed to do,” said Therese Deutschlander who owns Thin Ice Gift Shop on Elmwood. “We don’t want to get sick either. I don’t want to have 100 people in my store so I and my team get sick? That doesn’t benefit anyone.”
Besides limiting the amount of people inside the store at once, shops are also providing inside store or curbside pickup to keep lines moving.
“This is a go in, maybe you’ve looking on the website ahead of time and you know what you want, and get what you need,” Deutschlander said. “We’re running two registers at Thin Ice, other businesses have figured out systems to just be more efficient so that people who are coming from the suburbs, you park, you go in, you get what you need and you leave.”
Small business owners say they’ve noticed more people are interested in shopping local this year.
“I think with the climate that’s going on right now, I think people are hoping to shop local and maybe avoid the bigger stores and that’s what we’re really counting on,” Murszewski said.
“The community has been so supportive this year and a lot of people are definitely shopping early,” said Tera McElligott who runs Clayton’s Toys in Williamsville.
This year the county started the Shop 716 eGift card program. Shoppers have the option of buying a $25, or $50 card to a locally owned store and the county matches it.
“It is really important that we support our friends and neighbors who are struggling to keep their local businesses going during this holiday time and during the pandemic,” said assemblymember Karen McMahon. “It’s probably more important this year than any other year.”