New COVID-19 rules worry local small businesses counting on holiday shopping to boost sales

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As new restrictions designed to put a halt to alarming rise of COVID-19 cases go into effect, small businesses are preparing for their biggest season.

Business owners are hoping the new rules don’t impact holiday shopping.

“Santa’s coming, no matter what’s happening. We’re here, we’re ready, we are going to do anything we can,” said Holly Pollard, owner of Brookside Toy and Science.

Customers say Brookside Toy and Science is one of a kind, one of the few standalone toy stores in the metro and a staple in the Brookside shopping area since 1964.

“I think there is something magical about getting to shop for toys and get to fulfill Christmas lists,” Pollard said. “It’s Christmas time, and this is a toy store. This is where it’s happening.”

This year, Pollard realizes things will be different.

Already trying to survive the first shutdown, Monday’s announcement comes as stores gear up for what would be their busiest season, limiting shoppers and eliminating crowds.

For the first time, Pollard’s creating a website to help customers shop online and offering curbside pick-up and Facetime tours of the store.

Other local stores are offering similar experiences.

“We are trying to do as much either online or over the phone as we can. We are having people call ahead, we will set stuff aside for them if they want,” said Silas Williams, marketing manager at The (New) Dime Store “I post everything we get that’s new on both Facebook and Instagram.”

More than ever, local stores will be battling big box retailers like Amazon, Walmart and Target for holiday sales and online shopping.

“All of our shopping is going to be online and ordering to people’s houses,” shopper Phil Bryde said. “It’s easy, just tell me what you want and I’ll click.”

“I think the Amazons and the Targets of the world are going to be just fine, but we got to hang in and support the local businesses,” shopper Valerie Charles said. “I’m going to try my best to go when it’s not busy and keep supporting the local stores.”

While shopping online is expected to hit an all-time high, small businesses say they are counting on loyal customers to keep them open.

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