Local retailers, and even some non-profits, are offering virtual tours and shopping experiences in hopes of extending the life of a popular shopping day.
MINNEAPOLIS — A single day of shopping isn’t going to make up for an incredibly difficult year for small businesses, especially when everyone should avoid big crowds. But many Twin Cities retailers say they’re finding creative ways to extend Small Business Saturday in new, safe formats.
For the three retailers inside the Destination North Loop (D.NOLO) Co-Op in Minneapolis, Black Friday and Small Business Saturday have merged into one week-long event that goes beyond their shared retail space.
“Jaxon Grey, Kindred and BumberShute, all kind of cooperate and give us all a chance to play off each other. The ladies side is having 20% off everything and, on the men’s side, some of our top brands are 20 and 30 percent off,” said Michael Druskin, CEO of Jaxon Grey. “We definitely have pivoted a bit. We do offer curbside. We are also offering ‘Try Before You Buy,’ which is unique. Customers can try things at home without paying. They pay only once they decide to make a purchase.”
Down the street at Queen Anna House of Fashion Boutique, doors were closed on Black Friday. Owner, Nicole Jennings, opted for online sales only on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
“Just honestly for my own peace of mind and peace of heart,” Jennings said. “I didn’t want someone to be out at the door busters and then coming in and touching on clothes and not allowing us to have that safe space for our clients and for our team.”
Jennings is opening her North Loop store for Small Business Saturday and shoppers can get a sneak peek at the sales floor on Friday night. Queen Anna is among several area businesses offering interactive, online tours starting at 7 p.m. on Friday. It’s part of the Virtual North Loop Lights campaign.
“You can kind of scroll around at your leisure, while staying safe,” Jennings said. “Essentially, it’s just giving people another avenue to shop small.”
Local museums and non-profits are also hoping to generate some local business through their gift shops. The American Swedish Institute and other museums were forced to close as part of Governor Walz’ order last week, but the gift shop remains open.
“Any kind of revenue is very important for us, especially at this time,” said Rick Sellen, retail operations manager and buyer at the American Swedish Institute.
Sellen says the gift shop has added even more holiday gifts this year and, like many museum gift shops, every dollar spent has a lot of local impact.
“We like to support local artists as much as we can. This year, in particular, we’ve really focused on bringing in product from local artists,” Sellen said. “And it really supports our programs and supports our exhibits. It means a lot.”
And remember, there are lots of different ways to help local businesses if you’re willing to think small.
“Whether it be a restaurant, through take out or gift cards, or if you see a deal online, checking with your local store to see if they’ll match the price if they have the item,” Druskin said. “Every purchase, every person really counts more than ever I think this year.”