Dayton businesses hope Small Business Saturday support continues through holiday season

Dayton, Ohio – Miami Valley small business owners hope the nationwide movement to shop local will help them through the holiday season as many struggle to stay afloat during the pandemic.

Small Business Saturday has more meaning this year because with the stay at home advisory, and rising coronavirus cases, they have to find new ways to reach customers.

Now and Zen DIY Studio owners Paula Willis and Alleah Cooks took their store’s ‘how to make terrarium’ classes and turned them into take-home kits.

“You have to kind of get creative and take your original concept and kind of expand it into a way that’s safe for everyone,” Cooks said.

Because of the pandemic, they’ve changed their approach to reach customers online.

They’ve moved their workshops to Zoom, and have online ordering for pick-up, local delivery or shipping across the country,

Willis said online shopping is now a great way to connect with local businesses from home.

“We just want people to think about shopping small and shopping online small, instead of the big box, Amazon,” Willis said. “It’s tempting to go to amazon for everything, but there’s a lot of treasures in your hometown.”

“We wouldn’t be getting by right now without having online sales,” one of Lily’s Dayton owners Emily Mendenhall said.

Mendenhall said before the pandemic, 95% of the revenue at Lily’s Dayton came from in-person dining, now that’s not happening.

To make up some of the loss, the restaurant expanded online ordering and started offering delivery, with 937 Delivers which launched Friday.

She said the restaurant trying to come up with ways to encourage people to order carryout or to dine-in once they’re comfortable to do so.

“Gift cards are a major revenue stream in the holiday season, especially this year,” Mendenhall said. “So one thing we’re doing is a $5 bonus gift card for every $25 spent.”

Mendenhall said the restaurant won’t break even this year, but the goal is for Lily’s, and all local businesses, is to pull through the pandemic.

“We’ve been kind of using the hashtag small business every day,” Mendenhall said.

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