Local Owners: Small Business Saturday is not enough to keep us afloat during this pandemic

While many downtown Lafayette businesses saw success from this year's Small Business Saturday, they say it's going to take continued support to make it through the pandemic.

Posted: Nov 30, 2020 9:58 PM
Updated: Dec 1, 2020 9:56 AM

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) -- This weekend's Small Business Saturday brought a surprising turnout according to several Lafayette business owners. Some say it was great while others say it's now raising concerns for the future of their business.

This Saturday event was crucial since many businesses were forced to close for a period of time earlier in the pandemic. While some owners found this year's turnout to better than past years, others say their customer numbers were nowhere near normal,  but they all agree that it's going to take continued support to make it through these tough times.

"I just can not believe the support of this community to come out of a small business Saturday during a pandemic to support us, small business owners," said Aurora Wilson owner of Essentially Aqua located in downtown Lafayette.

Wilson said this weekend went better than she imagined. She's been in business for three years mainly selling her body care and beauty products online and at pop-up events. But this year she decided to officially open her brick and mortar the week before Thanksgiving.

"For seven straight hours, we had this place packed," said Wilson. "I had over 200 sales on Saturday which was pretty fantastic. The average sale was a little higher because it is the gift-giving season and so I was seeing people buy a little bit for themselves but mostly for others."

Wilson believes the excitement of her being a new downtown business may have drawn in customers. McCord Candies just across the street also saw a decent amount of business. However, owner Denise Bootsma said it wasn't nearly enough to make her confident about the survival of her candy store.

"We brought in half the money that we made last year during Small Business Saturday and that's been our best day of this whole year since coronavirus so it's really cutting in," said Bootsma.

Bootsma said McCord's heavily depends on the holiday season to keep them afloat all the way until the Halloween season the following year. She's worried.

"People just aren't supporting small businesses and they're closing and to be quite honest, we're on the verge of, I mean, that could happen here very, very easily so it's so important for the community to support your small businesses especially during coronavirus," said Bootsma.

Lori Schlaifer, owner of Boutique Lori Ann agrees.

"We really appreciate all the support we got for Small Business Saturday but we need it to continue all year long because we can't survive on just one good day a year," said Schlaifer.

This Small Business Saturday isn't it for these downtown businesses. More than a dozen stores will be participating in another weekend sales event on Saturday, Dec. 19. Schlaifer said the plan is for businesses to put out decorations and make their displays festive to honor the annual Christmas Parade that was canceled this year for Covid safety concerns. Businesses are expected to have promotions going on that day.

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