In a season normally overflowing with an abundance of tree lightings, special shopping events, and holiday markets the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 continue to weigh heavily on local small businesses in the Midlands.
In speaking with many of the business owners and hearing of their concerns, Columbia Economic Development and the City of Columbia recognized the need to provide additional promotion and support in order to help raise awareness and drive additional traffic to these small businesses. Columbia Economic Development has now partnered with ByFarr Design, Nephron Pharmaceuticals, BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, First Citizens Bank, Columbia Office of Business Opportunities, and Experience Columbia to create the new “Support Small. Save Local.” campaign.
“As we continue our support and outreach to small businesses we have increasingly heard story after story of hardships that small business owners are facing,” said Kay Hampton, Deputy Director of Columbia Economic Development. “We know there is a need to raise awareness of the long term impact the pandemic could have on our small businesses. We are thankful for the community champions who are making this campaign reach a broader audience with their support.”
“In Columbia, we’ve been fortunate in seeing a limited number of business closures since the onset of COVID-19, but we are incredibly aware of the impact on business revenues to our local economies, and of course the personal and human impact when a small business has to close its doors,” said Mayor Steve Benjamin. “That is why it is so important that we continue to support our small business and shop locally, especially over the next few weeks during the holidays. Local businesses are the lifeblood of our community. This campaign brings awareness to that need, highlights our small businesses, while still promoting necessary safe options to shop virtually. Online retail and gift cards for family and friends are excellent ways to Support Small and Save Local.”
Many businesses have endured two months of shutdown while seeing sales drops of more than 50 percent since the onset of COVID-19 and need the continued support from customers, clients, guests, and other small business owners. The “Support Small. Save Local.” project was created to bring awareness to the fact that many small businesses rely heavily on strong holiday season sales and need the support of our community more than ever. These businesses—many of which have been around for decades—face a prolonged struggle due to the pandemic and strong holidays sales would give many of them the vital boost that they need.
Recently, a series of videos, posters, and billboards have been launched and will continue to run through mid-March in order to highlight the importance of local shopping and the unique stories behind some of these businesses. Business owners will be featured in one-on-one interviews telling the stories of how their business have been impacted, and what local support means to them. These interviews will be released bi-monthly to remind of the continuing need throughout the winter, even after the hustle and bustle of the holiday season has faded.
Learn more about Support Small. Save Local. by visiting www.supportsmallsavelocal.com to view the first two videos in their series of eight. Under the video, you will find an interactive map button where shoppers can pinpoint a business, find information and shop with their favorites in person or virtually. Businesses will also have the opportunity to edit and add their information, along with gift cards, hours of operation, and contact details. For a step by step tutorial, visit https://youtu.be/23CSqFVrdO8. You can actively support the campaign by sharing the videos on your social media channels and by choosing to shop, dine, and stay local this winter.