Shopping locally could save Springfield small businesses this holiday season

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) – Christmas shopping is already on the minds of many, even though

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) – Christmas shopping is already on the minds of many, even though Halloween is still a few weeks away. Local businesses said shopping small and local can make a big difference, especially this year.

This week’s Amazon Prime Days encouraged an online head start on gift-buying, but that gives little back to the local economy. Many small businesses are heading into this year’s shopping season desperate for a boost, after months of struggling through the pandemic.

“I thought, everything will be fixed in a week and that was not correct,” said Joshua Arnett, owner at Bookmarx in downtown Springfield.

Like many, Joshua Arnett hoped the coronavirus pandemic would pass quickly. Seven months later, his bookstore, and many other businesses are still seeing the effects.

“Many places that bring people downtown, like the music places and the theaters, haven’t been open. We get a lot of business from that,” Arnett said.

Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce President Matt Morrow said locally-owned businesses have been faced with challenges long past the stay-at-home orders this spring.

“They had to close down completely for a period of time. That was devastating for small businesses. Then they came back, but at partial capacity. Then there are masking requirements and other requirements that just affect how people are able to do business,” Morrow said.

Rusty Worley, with the Downtown Springfield Association, said creativity has been the key, with curbside orders, package pick-up and other innovative business models.

“Our downtown small businesses have been remarkably resilient,” Worely said.

Worely said the best way to keep small businesses in Springfield is to support them now.

“Everyone says they love local retail and the most important way to show that is through dollars and backing that up with spending,” he said.

Worley and Morrow said this is the most important shopping season in decades.

“We are entering that time of the year where, if small businesses, many of whom have been really struggling, are going to make it and come into 2021 with some strength, it’s going to take a strong shopping season,” Morrow said.

Arnett said putting money into the pockets of local business owners is good for all of Springfield.

“Any money you put in stays in the community,” he said. “That’s different than if you just shop through Amazon.”

According to Morrow, 85% of the businesses in Springfield are small businesses. He said that accounts for 50% of the jobs in the city. Morrow said right now, Springfield is down about 11,000 jobs from last year, and said a successful shopping season for locally-owned businesses could replenish many of those positions.

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