The local business community is hoping residents remember to shop local this year, even on Cyber Monday, which is traditionally ruled by large corporations and major online retailers.
Rusted Arrow Mercantile in downtown Pensacola is attempting its first-ever Cyber Monday event this year. The home decor and gift shop will have $5 shipping site-wide, and orders of $75 or more will have free shipping.
Samantha Breedlove, co-owner of the shop, said there will also be gift card specials placed in random packages that are ordered throughout the day. She said they’ll be placed by a staff member dressed as an elf.
“It’s something fun and different, but I think it’s going to be really a unique way to try to hopefully get some people to be able to shop online and get some fun prizes out of it, kind of like a Willy Wonka Golden Ticket sort of thing,” Breedlove said.
Rusted Arrow Mercantile employee Courtney Holcomb prepares a customer’s order for shipment Nov. 20. The downtown Pensacola shop is holding its first-ever Cyber Monday event this year. (Photo: Tony Giberson/[email protected])
Rusted Arrow will have plenty of home decor and holiday gifts available at rustedarrowmercantile.com, as well as pre-made gift boxes for people like co-workers or teachers who may be on everyone’s lists. She said those will be discounted with a few items inside that can be sent directly to someone’s door.
This year has come with a slew of challenges for the shop, including being closed for a while during the pandemic. Breedlove said the store already had a website set up, but there was a learning curve as the shop relied more on online sales during the pandemic.
“Black Friday and Cyber Monday have always felt like a very big box thing to me in general because your inbox gets blown up with all the emails. But I think now people are just needing new and unique ways to shop and so much is going virtual so we’ve had no choice but to really try to jump on that train the best we can,” Breedlove said.
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Disko Lemonade, a downtown Pensacola yoga studio and boutique, is planning a Cyber Monday sale with the hopes of piggy-backing off the traffic already online that day. The studio will have sales on classes and annual memberships, as well as a special deal for one-month membership that day.
“I feel like a lot of people are already online on that Monday just because of all the sales that bigger brands are doing and so we just wanted to reach people who were already online and also create a sale that they didn’t have to come into the studio for,” said Briana Knight, owner. “It’s not just for big business and I’m hoping a lot of people will support the small businesses.”
Even though the businesses is local, Knight said she chose to offer Cyber Monday sales because customers can do them completely online and they offer a gift that’s good for mental health during a stressful year. She said links to the sales will be posted on DIsko Lemonade’s social media and sent out to the email list, as well as being displayed on its website, diskolemonade.com.
The holiday season is usually a big time of year for Disko Lemonade’s sales, but this year has been slower than in the past because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s definitely scary because … I think this holiday season is going to make or break a lot of the Pensacola small businesses and just small businesses around the country,” Knight said. “I really hope that if people are out shopping, they do remember their small businesses. One of the best things about going downtown is the small business, if you take that away, there’s not really a whole lot there.”
Cyber Monday, which takes place the Monday after Thanksgiving, has historically been dominated by national chains and online retailers, but it’s a concept more local small businesses should be considering and aware of, said Brian Wyer, president and CEO of the Gulf Coast Minority Chamber of Commerce.
“Most of the local businesses that I’ve seen at least, don’t push out those specials too much and I think it’s definitely a missed opportunity where they could push them out more,” Wyer said.
One positive this Cyber Monday for local businesses could be that this season, some customers might have pandemic fatigue and are ready to go out to shop, Wyer said.
“I think many people are getting kind of tired of the virus and they want to get out and they want to shop,” Wyer said.
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Kristen Rhodes, president and CEO of the Gulf Breeze Area Chamber, said a lot of businesses are moving to an online focus to be flexible for customers, even local ones who don’t have easy access to Gulf Breeze with the Pensacola Bay Bridge closure after Hurricane Sally.
Often local businesses, however, don’t think of themselves as part of Cyber Monday even if they have an online presence because they see themselves as competing against big box stores and online retailers.
“I’m not sure that local businesses would necessarily even think about themselves in a cyber capacity for Cyber Monday, even if they’re having now to move into an online platform. That’s something that even as a chamber president, my thought is still, ‘Oh they’re competing against Cyber Monday even if they have an online presence as a small business.'”
Madison Arnold can be reached at [email protected] and 850-435-8522.
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