While it was widely-known that small businesses would have to find a way to adjust one of their busiest shopping days of the season in a COVID-19 world, business owners within the Coastal Bend are giving thanks after a successful, although soggy day.
“We weren’t quite sure how people were going to be reacting with the weather and just with the overall climate of everything,” said Made In Corpus Christi owner Nikki Riojas. “(But) the community has come out — they’ve supported us. We had a line out the door at one point, so it’s been really great.”
In addition to having her shop open today with only a set amount of people allowed to enter at a time, Riojas joined 17 other local vendors today for the online-to-curbside shopping event "Loca for Local".
Elena Flores, founder of Loca for Local as well as her own small business Sew Bonita, said their first curbside event was in August.
“It was really great, and we knew that 'Shop Small Saturday' was coming the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and we couldn’t do an in-person market, so, for safety reasons, we decided to do another curbside of that,” Flores said at Hoegemeyer's Barbeque Barn where the event was held. “This is a safe environment (and) we wanted our vendors to have a safe space. We also wanted to be safe for our customers, so that no ones getting (out), this is all curbside as if you were shopping at a major retailer and we have all of our vendors ready with their products.”
Flores said within the course of 36 hours, they had received more than 400 orders.
“I think people — despite it being COVID — people still want to support small businesses because at the end of the days, small businesses are the heart and soul of our community.” Flores said, gesturing the numerous brown bags of various orders covering the restaurant. “Clearly, just standing here among all these orders, we have endless support of our community and we’re so thankful for that.”
Whether looking around in-person or via a drive-thru, shoppers didn’t seem to mind the conditions.
“The rain just makes it feel more, more like Christmas,” said Margo Cooper, who purchased notecards from Made In Corpus Christi. “I just think it’s important to get out and support the local people. The local businesses. I think that’s paramount.”
“Me, I know of a couple people who are actually selling, like vendors,” said Mary Clare Sepulveda, who was waiting in her car for a curbside order from Loca For Local, “I think it’s important to support them, because they’re what makes the community so great.”
Flores said, for both shoppers and potential vendors, those interested in learning more about their next event can sign up to receive important updates on their website.