PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPPRI) ─ Small business owners typically put out the call urging Rhode Islanders to shop local around the holidays, but with the pandemic taking a financial toll on stores statewide, they say it’s more important now than ever.
Lisa Paratore, owner of Homestyle, tells 12 News that, like many other stores on Westminster Street in Providence, her business has been struggling to keep its doors open over the past few months.
“We’re in the Financial District, so really nobody is in their offices right now,” Paratore said. “Our foot traffic during the week is minimal at best. If people don’t support small businesses this holiday season, we won’t be around next holiday season.”
Paratore said because of the state’s restrictions, she can only have 13 people inside her store at once.
“Normally during the holidays, we would have in excess of 50 at once,” she said, adding that space inside her store is limited.
Providence’s Open Air Saturdays were recently extended through December. The weekly event closes down sections of Westminster and Union streets to make more room for customers to shop safely.
Paratore said the event has kept her business from going under.
“Quite literally, it’s kept our doors open,” Paratore said.
Paratore said the benefit of shopping local is that big box stores often lack the unique items found in smaller shops. She said that “uniqueness” is a stake this holiday season, and Homestyle, like many other businesses, is doing everything it can to stay open.
“I’m trying to be flexible with how I can offer more hours to shop, shopping online, curbside, Facetime shopping,” Paratore said. “We will do anything to accommodate our customers and we’re just asking they do the same for us.”
Additionally, free two-hour parking has been extended in the city’s shopping districts through Jan. 1, 2021.
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