CHARLOTTE, N.C. — It’s the biggest shopping weekend of the year, and both big and small retailers are hoping for a boost after taking big hits this year due to the pandemic.
But small businesses have been hit especially hard, and are looking towards Small Business Saturday and the holiday shopping season in order to stay afloat.
Handcrafting unique jewelry was always a hobby for Tonya Onduja. When the HR manager of 25 years was laid off, she struggled to find a job in a pandemic.
“I know sometimes you have to reinvent yourself,” said Onduja.
She’s poured her heart into Zoul Jewelry, selling online and now at the Christmas Village at Truist Field.
What started as a hobby has now become her sole source of income.
“I’m laid off, I don’t have anything,” she said. “It’s been great for me to have this to fall back on, or to build and to try and do something, I worry bout people that might not have that.”
Many of these small business owners relied on trade shows, fairs and festivals that were all canceled this year due to COVID-19, slashing their income.
“All the ones I wanted to do were canceled. They canceled and some of them there’s no refund,” said Sonnette Tutor. “I was getting ready to set up in my garage.”
Tutor owns Sonnette’s Decor, a seller of hand-painted decorative glassware.
She also works as a bartender, so challenging doesn’t begin to describe how hard this year has been. Now, finally being able to open her stand and sell to customers is a relief.
“It actually means the world to me right now. It’s a lot of, my income, you know?” she said.
This year, Small Business Saturday may be more important than ever. Retail experts say it’s vital to the local economy and keeps people’s neighbors employed.
Tonya said she’s encouraged to see how many people are committed to supporting local shops, as many are relying on holiday shoppers to survive.
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