Local stores and restaurants hurt by pandemic hope to get big boost from Small Business Saturday

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It began in 2009 as an effort to help mom and pop shops through the recession.

Eleven years later, Small Business Saturday has become a boon for local restaurants and stores during the holiday season.

In business districts around the metro, stores are rolling out the red carpet for customers. This year, the retail holiday is more important than ever.

The bell over the door at one of the newest stores in Lee’s Summit tingles in toon with the train whistle that sounds through the middle of the downtown business district. Christmas lights and decorations cover the streets.

Flavor opened its doors for the first time this spring. Owner, Amy Keith has never known what it’s like to operate without the inconvenience masks and capacity limitations.

“We have 180 different spices, and we also carry the infused and flavored balsamic vinegars and olive oils and a wide array of food that’s made by local Kansas City food artisans,” Keith said.

The year 2020 has been tough on most small businesses, and owners are going the extra mile to put the Merry in Christmas this year. The Lee’s Summit business district has banned together to survive. Today all of the stores are offering free canvas gift bags, masks and mini hand sanitizers branded “Love Local”. Some of the stores are even giving customers free coffee or cider.

The owners of Local Foundery hid gift cards amidst their merchandise to thank customers for shopping local.

” We are a couple of friendly guys and we enjoy seeing smiley faces in the shop. We do our best to help them,” said co-owner Dave Eames.

When COVID-19 forced weeks of government-induced closures for small businesses this Spring, restaurants and stores had to pivot to survive. So they did. Offering online orders and curbside pickups.

“The whole time we were closed, we did some delivery and we did some packages and people were really nice and continued to buy things from us, so it was helpful.” said Ben Wine, co-owner of Local Foundery.

Many brick and mortars, including Ivy and Sparrow, sell handmade items from dozens of local makers. Things like leather bags, pottery and jewelry. Owners are quick to customize, do personal shopping, and almost anything else to please.

“If you call and you need curbside pickup, we will do that. We’ve even delivered to someone’s porch. There’s so many ways to support us right now,” said Melissa Wuennenburg. owner of Ivy & Sparrow.

Lee’s Summit is celebrating the holiday season with special events designed to keep customers coming all week.

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