CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Small businesses in the Charlotte area have been banking on Small Business Saturday and the coming weeks of holiday shopping. After a rough year, some business owners are depending on this time to get through the next stretch.
When Nicole Corriher decided to open a fine jewelry store in Charlotte's South End neighborhood, she never thought her first year open would be during a pandemic.
"You're just fighting tooth and nail to survive some extreme, extreme odds," said Corriher, the owner of The Golden Carrot. "Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined having to navigate this truly bizarre environment."
Small Business Saturday arrived right on time for her. But this year, it's more than a boost to business. For some, it's a lifeline.
"They're putting in their blood, sweat, and tears and their passion and love," Corriher said. "They're thinking about it day and night."
According to estimates from Yelp, more than 97,000 businesses across the country have closed. It's one reason why small business owners and many others are counting on local support to keep their doors open.
"It's just hard, you know, people aren't going places, so they're not buying as much," said Megan Polinski, manager at Charlotte's.
The women's boutique on Providence Road is also feeling the pain.
The store has adapted with the COVID times, displaying their products on social media and offering curbside pick up.
"We just have that personal touch that big box stores don't," Polinski said.
Corriher's store also providing an experience that online can't.
"It's something you want to be able to try on, hold it, touch it, see it in person," Corriher said.
Center City Partners is also hoping shoppers choose to keep their dollars close to home.
"This year it just matters more than ever," VP of South End Center City Partners, Megan Gude said.
Starting Saturday, Nov. 27, Small Business Saturday will be a month-long event. Retailers, restaurants, and galleries will all be a part of the four-week pop-up event.
"All of the special events that we're doing are outside so we'll have holiday markets that will be each of the four Saturdays between Thanksgiving and Christmas," Gude said. "Those are all outside, everyone will be masked, everything will be distanced."
Meanwhile, Corriher is grateful for every sale but offers a reminder: Small Business Saturday is an important day for your neighborhood shopkeeper -- friends and neighbors rely on them.
"Small business Saturday is really the time to get out and support those people who make your community -- who make Charlotte -- this wonderful place to live," Corriher said.
In Davidson, small business owners are trying to bounce back.
"The more that we get our everyday basics from places like Amazon or Target.com, I think really the more we need something like this," said Megan Blackwell, owner of The Little Village Store.
For more than half a century, The Little Village store has weathered many highs and lows. Blackwell said it's the oldest gift store in North Carolina -- her in-laws started in 1966.
They faced their biggest challenge yet in March when they were ordered to shut down due to COVD-19. Now, they're trying to bounce back.
"You, even more, need the community of a local restaurant or local gift store," Blackwell said.