Despite the pandemic, neighborhood businesses are preparing for the busiest shopping season of the year — but it will look a lot different in 2020.
Some owners are restructuring how they will serve their customers.
CirculateMKE, a market that creates space and opportunity for shoppers and local entrepreneurs to experience the diverse cultures of Milwaukee, canceled a Black Friday Market due to COVID-related restrictions and has now turned its customers’ attentions online.
“Although we can’t be together physically, there are local entrepreneurs taking the extra steps to make products and services available for the holiday season,” said Shalina Ali, a co-director of the market. “So we are going to be amplifying those businesses on our online platforms.”
Ali said CirculateMKE has also been considering making product boxes. People can keep up with local businesses and their Black Friday sales on CirculateMKE’s social media accounts.
Other local small businesses are following suit.
“We are really pushing a digital Black Friday this year,” said Lilo Allen, a co-founder of The Bronzeville Collective MKE. “We are planning small in-person gatherings, like a coat drive, but I would advise people to curbside pickup as much as possible.”
Raven Davis, the owner of Imagine This Customs, has always offered pickup and delivery to shoppers. She has added shipping as an option for local customers as well.
While these business owners acknowledge it will be more difficult, they ask that people still make the effort to shop local.
“I hope people will be intentional in their holiday shopping,” Allen said. “Your money goes further in a local store than it does at a larger corporation.”
“Try to support local businesses,” said Davis. “Sometimes your business is the only income they have.”
Ali added: “The way we make it out is by supporting one another.”