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Small Business Saturday: How valley businesses are counting on people to shop local

The streets of downtown Palm Springs and El Paseo were packed with shoppers. And whether they knew it or not, many people were contributing to Small Business Saturday.

The day is dedicated to promoting shopping at small businesses. This year, however, was different than years passed. Many Coachella Valley businesses are relying on people shopping locally now more than ever, after having suffered a blow to revenue because of the pandemic.

"Not bad, the weekends are solid but during the week it’s up and down," Fame Cigars & Wine owner, Mel Shah said when answering how business was going.

The lounge sits in a prime location on Date Palm Drive in downtown Palm Springs. On Saturday an influx of customers sat outside the shop, sipping wine and smoking cigars. Despite what seemed like a normal day of business this time of year, Shah said they are still working to recover from a temporary closure and setbacks caused by the pandemic.

"Once the shut down happened in March, the businesses went down and it was hard to get the customers back in," said Shah.

The lounge offers a variety products, including a self-serve wine option that allows customers to taste wine before purchasing a bottle.

"We have a wide selection of wines-- majority of the big names. We offer microbrews on tap [and] cigars. It’s a cigar bar, it’s one of a kind in the desert."

El Paseo wasn't as congested as downtown Palm Springs, but it did have its fair share of shoppers on Saturday.

"Right now we have more locals than we typically would have," said owner of The Lumpy Bunny, Patti Scalero.

Scalero's kids store has been on El Paseo for 15 years.

"We’re known for having a very diverse inventory and not having the same thing as everyone else and people like that.  They can come in here and they can always find something that they wouldn’t see other places," said Scalero.

The shop offers everything from kids clothes, to toys and stuffed animals.

Scalero's business also took a hit from the pandemic.

"It’s very different than it was last year at this time. It’s okay, we are surviving and we are very well supported by our community. We’re finding that we’re getting more people from Los Angeles County, Orange County, and San Diego County," said Scalero.

She believes right now is the time to shop local.

"For us it’s everything, We can’t compete with Amazon. We would not survive if it weren’t for our local customers," said Scalero.

A similar point of view was shared just next door at Wayne's Collection.

"Business is wonderful, I just need more of it," Wayne Bell jokingly said.

Bell has owned Wayne's Collection for 30 years. Like many others, the business recently saw a sharp dip in sales brought on by the pandemic.

"There are less people out. All of my Canadian shoppers aren’t coming down because they can’t get here or they’re afraid to fly-- business is really hurting because of that. I have a lot of Canadian customers," said Bell.

Now that the holiday are here, Bell is hoping the time of year will help turn business around.

Bell recently created his own promotion in lieu of Black Friday.

"I think black is negative, so I did Red Friday-- just did buy one, get one half price," Bell said.

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Shelby Nelson

Shelby Nelson is a News Reporter for KESQ News Channel 3. She joined our team in September 2019. Learn more about Shelby here.

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