Small Business Saturday takes on new meaning

Randy Gonzales
Special to Hays Daily News
Paisley Pear Wine Bar, Bistro and Market is located at 1100 Main St. in Hays.

Small Business Saturday emphasizes the importance of shopping locally during the holiday season. With many businesses struggling in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it takes on new meaning this Saturday.

“It’s even more imperative that we shop local this year,” said Rhonda Meyerhoff, vice president of membership for the Hays Chamber. “It’s always very important to support our local business persons, but they’ve been hit, and some of them seriously so.”

Shaun Musil, owner of Paisley Pear Wine Bar, Bistro and Market, 1100 Main, said it has been a struggle for his business since it reopened after the state shut down most stores early in the pandemic. That is why this holiday shopping season is so important.

“Usually by this time of year it starts getting brisk,” Musil said. “We’ve had some days like that and other days it’s just really, really slow. We expect that, because people are nervous about the virus.”

Sarah Cearley, owner of Simply Charmed, 1011 Main, said the start of the holiday shopping season is important for her business.

“Historically, this is a pretty big weekend for us,” Cearley said. “I think with the current situation and rising (COVID-19) cases, it could be hindered a little bit. I think it’s important for residents to remember all the small businesses are taking a lot of precautions.”

Musil said he had to think outside the box once the pandemic hit. He started an online shop for gift items in his store, as well as emphasizing free delivery and takeout orders.

The Chamber continues to offer Chamber Cheques, which Meyerhoff said are popular gifts for employees. Musil’s store also has its own gift card available. He said Paisley Pear is more than a wine bar and sandwich shop.

“This time of year, gifts are huge for us,” Musil said. “It’s off to a slow start, but we’ve had days when it’s been really, really busy.”

While Cearley hopes shoppers come into her store, Simply Charmed — which specializes in women’s clothing and fashion accessories, as well as children’s clothing and gift items — also offers shopping by email and phone and has curbside pickup.

“It’s really important for everyone to support their local businesses because most of us were closed five to six weeks this spring,” Cearley said. “A lot of us are still making up for that lost ground. These next five weeks are pivotal, because they essentially fund the next two-thirds to three-quarters of the 2021 year.”

Meyerhoff hoped shoppers would hit the stores when they are ready.

“Whatever day that works best for people to go out and shop these businesses, whether it’s Small Business Saturday or another day, I would sure encourage them to do that,” Meyerhoff said. “We need to remember these businesses support activities and events within our community. If people would rather not be where there’s a big crowd, then go on off times, to where you feel more comfortable.”

Musil said his business has enhanced health protocols to keep shoppers and employees safe.

“We’re just trying to do our best by social distancing,” he said. “If you look at our store, it doesn’t look anywhere (like) it used to, but we still brought a lot of gift items in.”

Simply Charmed also keeps a safe shopping experience; there was a mask requirement in the store even before the city’s mandate. The store also sells face coverings, which has helped make up for lost business.

“We’ve made some adjustments,” Cearley said. “We’re all pretty acclimated to wearing masks.”

Musil, who opened Paisley Pear three and a half years ago, tries to maintain a positive outlook through tough times.

“We believe if we keep our head up, treat people right and do the right thing, our store — when it’s the right time — the people will come back.”

Cearley, who has owned Simply Charmed since 2013, is optimistic her business will survive the challenges created by the pandemic.

“I’m confident in the loyalty created in our store with our customers,” Cearley said. “We do a lot of things that make me feel we’ll come out good after this holiday season.”