Warren small business owners happy to see people back in stores

East Bay

WARREN, R.I. (WPRI) — Small businesses are hopeful people shop local this year for holiday gifts, after they endured so much during the pandemic.

Those that survived had to pivot to online sales to support their brick-and-mortar stores.

Last year, 12 News stopped by Cerulean on Child Street in Warren.

One year later, they were no longer at that location, Instead, owner Kate Simpson moved her location Water Street.

“It was really nice thing to see everyone coming out to support local and wanting to support local and making it their priority to do so,” Simpson said.

That community support, even in the darkest of days of the pandemic, not only kept her business afloat, but helped her fulfill her dreams as a business owner.

“I’ve been able to quit my nursing job and focus on this full time.”

At Cerulean, some 75 local artisans’ work is on display. A silver lining of the pandemic as people have had more time to take up hobbies and discover their artistic abilities.

“A lot of people found crafts and they were like, ‘Wait? I can actually sell these?’ And I’m like, ‘Yes, and you can sell them here.'”

And now Simpson said people are coming back into the store, rather than shopping online, and they’re looking for different items than last year.

“More people are gathering, so they’re getting more things to have get-togethers with people because that wasn’t happening last year.”

A couple doors down on Water Street is Beleza Shoppe, where owner Michelle Underwood was hopeful more people would come out to all the stores for in-person sales this year.

“I started right before the pandemic, so that was a little bit difficult, but I made it through,” Underwood said.

She credits persistence, loyal customers , and other business owners for being able to stay open.

“A majority of us are women owned, so it’s really nice that we have that community, especially led by women, and that’s such a unique thing.”

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