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Small Business Saturday offers hope for local businesses during a tough year

The 'shopping holiday' was created by American Express in 2010. In 2020, it offers a glimmer of hope during a year of economic hardship.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Small Business Saturday is one of the many post-Thanksgiving shopping "holidays" that offer great deals while specifically focusing on local shops and restaurants. 

In a year where COVID-19 has made running a business more difficult than ever, local owners, like Daniel Reyes of Lida's Jungle, are grateful to be up and running.

Lida's Jungle opened the doors of their pop-up plant shop this October, during the pandemic. "I definitely feel fortunate that we're able to do this, and we just really, you know, stress on doing it as safely as possible," Reyes said.

He and his partner continued to grow their business throughout the pandemic, thanks to the support of local customers. The couple and business team noticed that lockdowns were starting and quickly pivoted to an online order and contactless delivery business. 

That helped them to grow throughout the pandemic and open their first store.

They were one of the lucky ones.

Many local businesses have temporarily or permanently closed because of the pandemic. According to data from Yelp, as of August 31, 163,735 businesses on its platform have closed. And 60 percent of them will never reopen. 

"The more that people can shop local and support these local businesses, and keep them open, and let them keep growing and serving their community, the longer the better," Reyes said.

The benefit extends beyond his employment. It touches the customer experience.

"We'll literally talk to a customer for 30 minutes to an hour about something," Reyes said. "You don't get the same kind of passion at a big box store that you're going to get from like a local business that's really passionate about what they're doing."

The hope for Reyes and other business owners like him is that the mentality to shop local extends beyond just this weekend. Online shopping is expected to hit an all-time high this year because of the pandemic.

This is why local shops like Lida's Jungle hope you will still strap on the mask and shop small.

"Small Business Saturday is really just to kind of celebrate the local businesses that are there for their communities," Reyes said.

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