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Small businesses innovate shopping experience ahead of Small Business Saturday

CHICAGO (WLS) — Small business Saturday is only a few days away, and local stores are trying to lure shoppers in a new way to holiday.

Autumn Geist, owner of The Collective, a lifestyle boutique and makery in Lisle allows for limited in-person shopping, private shopping and virtual visits via social media.

After a rough few months, Geist hopes Small Business Saturday will remind those shopping to shop local.

“Amazon is still going to be there tomorrow and your small business may not be,” Geist said.

The only people allowed in Seminary Co-op Bookstore are staff.

The Hyde Park bookstore lost revenue during the shutdown and sold fewer course books to University of Chicago students in recent months.

They created a holiday gift guide catalog.

Now its the online and phone sales that will be critical for the business.

The American Booksellers Association reported 20% of independent booksellers are in danger of closing.

The antidote is a national campaign called “Boxed Out,” an effort to urge buying from local books stores and avoid Amazon.

“Thinking about voting with your dollars, voting for people who are in your neighborhood, who you know,” said Jenny Clines, Operations Directorat Seminary Co-op Bookstores.

Timeless Toys went up against Amazon during the online retailer’s prime days and offered its own deals.

The Lincoln Square toy store had an online presence prior to the pandemic which has helped because now it’s not the same in-person says the store’s shopkeeper.

“It’s a magical moment for a lot kids, and that just doesn’t exist this year,” said Scott Friedland, a Timeless Toys shopkeeper.

Friedland gave a virtual tour of the redesigned the store where the demo toys typically available for play have been put away during the pandemic.

He said he’s been doing a lot of virtual and private shopping with customers.
Friedland hopes better times will return, but until then he’s helping gift givers be safe and find the right things to make a child’s holiday special.

“Shop at the stores that make your community special and that put the money right back into your community to make it thrive,” Friedland said.

Among the innovative ways local stores have connected with shoppers include:free local deliveries, contactless pick up and free shipping- all in an effort to help customers, and their small businesses survive.

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