SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – The coronavirus pandemic is impacting one of the busiest shopping weekends of the year, Small Business Saturday. Many local businesses who have been struggling say they have high hopes that shoppers will support small businesses this weekend.
When Kristen Harkleroad opened Capital Bee Company three years ago in Savannah it became the city’s go-to place for indulging in nature’s sweetest treat, honey. Now a global pandemic has turned that sweet taste sour.
“We didn’t know what was going to happen when things locked down in March and it was very scary,” Harkleroad said.
Luckily the company was able to stay open but it still saw losses. They’re hoping to recover this weekend on Small Business Saturday. It’s one of their busiest days of the year.
“I think it means so much this year than years in the past because small businesses have been hit very hard a lot with everybody else, but every customer counts for a small business,” Harkleroad said.
For the last 10 years, there hasn’t been a better day to support local businesses. Capital Bee Company supports more than 55 local companies within their own store.
American Express, the founder of the day, says 62 percent of small businesses in the United States need to see sales income return to the same rate it was pre-pandemic before the end of the year to stay in business.
“I think America was built on the back of small businesses and I think it’s really important to be able to still support them. That gives that unique charm that gives the reason to actually visit somewhere,” Savannah visitor, Drew Holtwisch said.
Holtwisch is visiting from Dallas where small business is also hurting. He told News 3 he hates to see any business that has been around for years close in the blink of an eye. Harkleroad is hoping to see at least one more business booming day before the end of the year.
“It’s really significant because your small business owners are the heartbeat and the backbone of your community. They’re what bring people back to Savannah,” Harkleroad said.
As an incentive to shopping locally, the city is offering free parking downtown. From noon until 8 p.m. Saturday. You don’t have to pay if you use a city-owned parking garage in downtown Savannah.
Parking is also free every Tuesday and Wednesday in December.