The coronavirus pandemic has stretched into it's ninth month, with no signs of letting up as case numbers in crease throughout the nation, and in California. The impacts on national and local economies have been devastating. As the holiday season approaches, many business owners are asking residents to shop local.
"We really need our local community support, especially in the next couple months due to the pandemic," said JadaBug's Kids Boutique owner, Heidi McArthur.
The La Quinta shop first felt the major effects of widespread cancellations after the 2020 BNP Paribas Open was canceled in mid-March.
"They canceled the tennis tournament and my sales dropped at over 200% overnight and never picked back up again since then," said McArthur.
The kids boutique owner also rents out strollers. She said rentals were canceled and had to be refunded following the cancellation.
The impacts of the virus have been widespread, with some being more severe than others.
"We are doing okay. We have a huge customer pool who is buying from us and they keep on coming back so we are very fortunate that we are getting customer loyalty back and we are very appreciative," said El Paseo Jewelers owner, Raju Mehta.
Mehta is a staple in the local economy where he has been in business nearly 22 years. He has a unique situation that he believes has helped him weather many storms, including the recently popularized route to shop online.
"We are jewelry manufactures. We are direct diamond dealers from India so we can do things, we can beat everybody’s price. I will beat anybody’s price if they come with a price. For a lot of people, that luxury is not there so they can be beaten by online stores, but people have to understand that this is the time to support local stores," said Mehta.
He has also experienced a slight influx of holiday shopping in recent days.
Similarly, Crystal Fantasy owner Joy Meredith has noticed more gift wrapping requests recently. Her store, which sits in the heart of downtown Palm Springs on North Palm Canyon Drive, offers an abundance of stones, jewelry and more.
"Business is really brisk. I didn’t know what to expect because of COVID, but business is really brisk and the people are very happy," said Meredith.
On the same block, Sazzy's Galleria opened for the first time on October 1.
"We were planning on April 1. We moved here in January, we got the spot in February. We started remodeling the spot. April was our goal but the shut down in March really cut things back," said owner, Mitchell Luther.
The store sits among a unique cluster of privately owned businesses, and offers pottery, hand-poured candles and items from more than 40 different artists.
Although the store has had a relatively slow start, Luther is hoping that the holidays will help turn that around.
The local business owners are encouraging Coachella Valley residents to shop local.
"A lot of people were shut down 100% back in March and April, and I think that this holiday season, for small retailers, is definitely going to define whether or not they’re going to be in business after the holidays," said Meredith.
The Coronavirus has had a ripple effect across the nation. In September, Yelp released it's 3rd quarter Economic Impact Report. As of August 31, the report found that more than 163,000 U.S. businesses closed between then and March 1. Approximately 60% of those closures became permanent, and totaled nearly 98,000 businesses, according to Yelp. Restaurants and retail businesses were among the most impacted. The state of California lead the trend in closures, followed by Texas and Florida.
"This is the time when the merchant on the street needs you and your business in our stores," said Mehta.
For customers that are hesitant to shop in-person, many stores have adjusted operations to enable online services and curbside pick-up.
"We have a website: Jadabugs.com. We do a local discount-- shop 'local 10' and that will take 10% off of the entire purchase and this week we’re rolling out same day delivery," said McArthur.
"We have an online store and a virtual jewel room," said Mehta.
Crystal Fantasy also offers online services.