Shop Local Saturday aims to generate customers, revenue for businesses in the High Country

Abi Pepin, Reporter

Many local businesses are unsure about how to keep their store thriving due to closures because of COVID-19. The Boone Area Chamber of Commerce introduced Shop Local Saturday to garner support for local businesses during the pandemic. 

“Our goal was to continue to bring awareness and show support for the multitude of businesses who are negatively affected by COVID-19,” Katie Greene, director of communications and market for the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce, wrote in an email. “Not just the restaurants, but retailers, the service industry and the hospitality industry.”

The first Shop Local Saturday took place April 18 and will continue on the third Saturday of each month through 2020.

“If there’s nobody downtown, we don’t have business,” said Jenelle Vaquera, owner of  clothing store Lucky Penny.

Lucky Penny is one of many businesses still trying to still complete sales, though its doors are closed.

Vaquera said that it is difficult for her specific business to create a website because she only carries limited quantities of each item.

“Honestly, Saturday was great,” Vaquera said. “It’s still nothing like a regular Saturday would be, but we definitely had gift cards purchased, and people have been reaching out to shop through social media.”

Abby Willis, manager at Stick Boy Bread Kitchen, said although its doors remain open, regular sales have dropped.

“We’ve had less customer count, but customers are buying more,” Willis said.

Willis said management is limiting the amount of people in the bakery to 10, including employees. The bakery is also offering curbside pick up and online sales. 

“Saturday was very busy for us,” Willis said. “Especially Saturday afternoon after people started waking up.”

Mary Ruthless, owner of Foggy Pine Books, wrote in an email that her store has made a lot of changes since closing to the public in March.

“We are now selling books exclusively over the phone, via email or on our online store,” Ruthless wrote.

Ruthless said her store canceled all of its events except for book clubs, which are now hosted online each month.

“Our Saturday was a little slower than usual,” Ruthless said. “I don’t think local folks knew about this event, and we did not have anyone mention it when calling to place their orders.”

Ruthless said Foggy Pine will advertise more for Shop Local Saturday next month because their monthly newsletter went out before they knew about the event.

“We have received some extremely positive feedback from our local businesses and look forward to continuing the Shop Local Saturday’s the third Saturday of every month through 2020,” Greene said.