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Small Business Saturday has new meaning during pandemic

Angel Russell
Hula Hut in Avila Beach decorated early for the holidays to help bring cheer in a tough year.

Locally-based stores and companies are hoping for big crowds this weekend on Small Business Saturday, with many of them looking to recoup for losses due to the pandemic.

Small businesses throughout the Central Coast are decorating their stores in anticipation for the holiday shopping to begin. 

“Oh, I’ve had Christmas out since October," said Kari Appleton of Hula Hut Gifts and Restaurant in Avila Beach.

Appleton has decked out the shop with numerous Christmas trees and holiday ornaments, hoping to help bring some early cheer in a tough year. 

“I had no idea [if] we were going to have any open store at all [by now]," Appleton said. "And we don’t have our tables inside [for] dining anymore, so I just use that as merchandise space.”

Appleton said although people enjoy the deals from big-box stores like Walmart and Target, it’s mostly small businesses that keep the money local by donating to Central Coast organizations. 

“A lot of small businesses in small towns do that, they support all the activities and fundraisers," Appleton said. "So I feel like this is maybe the time where all of those people and organizations support us.”

In downtown San Luis Obispo, Erica Hamilition co-owns the Black Water gift shop with her mom, and the pandemic restrictions caused a lot of financial stress. 

“It did feel like we were living in some sort of horror movie," Hamilton said. "It’s a sigh of relief that Christmas is coming, and there is some sense of normalcy.”

Hamilton said like most of the businesses downtown, they’ll be doing as much as they can to attract people to shop by offering discounts and specials.

“Small businesses are shutting down," Hamilton said. "If you want things to be back to 'normal' before COVID, you have to support small businesses as much as you can. That involves shopping small and ordering from your favorite restaurants and buying gift cards.”

Angel Russell is a former KCBX News reporter who started her career in journalism as a reporter and producer for KREX on Colorado's Western Slope; she later moved to the Central Coast to work for KSBY as weekend anchor and weekday reporter. She holds a BA in journalism from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, and playing guitar and piano.
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