Small Business Saturday

‘It's Terrible Times': Local Businesses Entering Critical Holiday Season

The State of Massachusetts is trying to provide support with the My Local MA campaign, which encourages people to shop at the 700,000 local businesses and restaurants across the commonwealth.

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It has been a tough year for local businesses amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Restrictions in Massachusetts have resulted in shutdowns, event cancellations and far fewer in-store shoppers than retailers would normally see.

“It is tough,” said Charlotte Walsh, who has owned Charles River Running in Norwood for nine years. “There’s no marathons. No road races.”

Walsh had to shut down her store for two months in the spring during the height of the pandemic. In this holiday shopping season, she’s making a plea to support local businesses.

"I tell people that they need to close their eyes and imagine our Main Street once we are all vaccinated and what businesses do you want to see?" Walsh said. "What do you want it to look like?"

Across the street at Byblos Restaurant, owner Maurice Daaboul is hoping he can get through the winter.

“The expectations are not too high,” he said. “We know what we’re going through. It’s terrible times.”

The Town of Norwood is doing what it can to help, holding their annual Norwood Day on Small Business Saturday.

“It’s critical to keep these businesses here,” said Tony Mazzucco, Town of Norwood General Manager. “These businesses pay taxes, they employ people and without local support they’re not going to be here.”

And the State of Massachusetts is trying to provide support, too, with the My Local MA campaign, which encourages people to shop at the 700,000 local businesses and restaurants across the commonwealth.

“Now, we’re saying, please we need your help, now more than ever,” said Keiko Matsudo Orrall, the Executive Director of the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism. “Make one change. Make one purchase. Make one Christmas gift or holiday gift from a local store.”

Tom O'Rourke, the president of the Neponset River Regional Chamber, says it’s a good program.

“We are glad that they’re doing it,” O’Rourke said. “They’re putting some money and resources behind it.”

Like so many things in 2020, Black Friday shopping was different, but people say they understand the COVID restrictions in place, including masks and social distancing.

Small business owners know the next few months will be critical and are optimistic that the economy will improve in the spring.

“Just try and get to a good place with inventory so we can hunker down in February and March,” Walsh said.

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