The pandemic’s second Black Friday is almost underway and businesses in Salisbury are bracing for the day of high traffic shopping.
Vernon Powell Shoes, Kaiju Records and Barefoot Baby Boutique have shared what they are expecting ahead of the Christmas season this year.
“Local shopping is extremely important to the community,” said Vernon Powell president Joe Wright. “When (people) buy local, more money stays here. Think about it before you try to click and buy this year.”
Black Friday Deals
All three stores plan to have special deals on Black Friday this year.
Wright said Vernon Powell plans to make some offers, although they may be more selective depending on inventory availability.
At Barefoot Baby Boutique, styles and prints of clothing in which only one item is left will get a 50% discount, according to owner Martha Ogburn.
Kaiju Records plans to reduce used records by 10%.
The record store will also extend its opening hours on Black Friday. Owner Shawn “Bip” Roberts anticipates large crowds, especially since Black Friday is also Record Store Day, a national recognition of independent record stores that takes place every two years.
To combat the coronavirus, many stores like Kaiju Records will apply social distancing guidelines and capacity limits.
“Even though we want people to go out and shop, we want people to be smart,” Roberts said.
Supply chain issues and staff shortages
Nationally, enthusiasm for the holiday season has also raised concerns about supply chain issues and labor shortages.
Wright said Vernon Powell experienced these issues firsthand.
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The shoe store is experiencing shipping delays and is operating with fewer employees than before the pandemic.
“We have (products) on order, we just don’t know when (they) will arrive,” he said. “It’s a waiting situation.”
Wright said products could arrive on time, arrive late, or never show up.
Although he described it as “scary,” he said the store was still selling merchandise and was “ready to go” for the holidays.
Additionally, Wright shared his optimism for the future.
“Once we get the supply chain fixed, we would like to go back to business as usual and be open when we’re generally open and have the number of things we’re used to,” he said. .
Pandemic to go
Each store experienced the pandemic differently. For Vernon Powell, the pandemic has brought an “extremely difficult” year and a half.
Like small businesses across the country, the shoe store has struggled to pay its bills, attract customers and retain employees, according to Wright.
However, Vernon Powell is “bouncing back now,” in Wright’s words.
Kaiju Records experienced the pandemic differently – perhaps due to the resurgence in popularity of vinyl records. In 2020, vinyl sold more than CDs for the first time since the 1980s.
Roberts speculated that this could be due to the fact that many people became interested in vinyl while stuck at home during the first months of the pandemic.
“I think the pandemic has done wonders for the vinyl industry,” he said.
Meanwhile, Barefoot Baby Boutique apparently got lucky at the start of the pandemic. The shop, which sells organic and eco-responsible clothes and toys, changed location the week before the closure in March 2020.
The months of lockdown have allowed Ogburn to set up his new store and prepare for customers.
Ogburn said she was well stocked and looked forward to the holiday season. While the pandemic can be daunting for businesses, she said it’s important to get the big picture.
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“It’s the long term that counts,” Ogburn said. “You can’t get carried away with the present moment and be downcast and go negative. You have to see the long term and go for it.”
Maddie Aiken is the community reporter for Delmarva Now / The Daily Times. Do you have a tip or a story idea? Send it to [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @madsaiken.