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Small Business Saturday a way to give back

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Katy McNeil

Katy McNeil

This Saturday Columbus area residents have the chance to support the local stores that helped them through the COVID-19 pandemic, said officials.

Small Business Saturday is this weekend and, according to Columbus Area Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Katy McNeil, the occasion is a good reminder to shop local.

“It's a good time to get out and to make sure that we're supporting those local businesses that have actually kind of carried us through the COVID season (last year) when we couldn't go somewhere or we couldn't buy through our normal channels our local stores have been there. So it's a great opportunity to support them,” McNeil said.

And data provided by the City of Columbus certainly reflect a jump in the city’s sales tax recipients during November last year.

The city received $689,098 in sales tax revenue for January, which is when it receives funds from November sales. That’s almost a $28,000 difference from the amount it received the previous year -- $661,687.

The city has been steadily receiving increased sales tax revenue dollars for the past several years. In January alone, the city received $555,239 for the 2016-17 fiscal year; $613,821 for fiscal year 2017-18; and $618,338 for fiscal year 2018-19.

McNeil estimated that Columbus grocery stores most likely had an increase in sales from residents purchasing a surplus in toilet paper, cleaning products and food in general as more people were eating at home.

“I think that's a huge thing to promote them as they kind of kept us afloat,” McNeil said of Small Business Saturday. “There were so many other communities that saw huge losses -- businesses closed, hotels closed, restaurants closed, clothing stores closed. But our businesses, they got creative.”

McNeil gave the example of Barbara Jean’s, a clothing store in downtown Columbus, which allowed people to shop online during the pandemic. Also, she noted, the business did Facebook Live posts to promote new merchandise and allowed people to set up private shopping times.

“You could come in and shop and not have to worry about social distancing so that you were the only ones in the store, so they really kind of thought outside the box and got creative,” McNeil said.

Many eateries were limited in the number of people that could be in their establishment and/or took advantage of to-go orders due to the Directed Health Measures in place at that time. A March 2020 Telegram article lists the CK Grill and Bar and Picket Fence Café as offering to-go orders, with Picket Fence having limited in-person seating at that time.

“I think as a community we support those small businesses all year long, but it's (Small Business Saturday) just an annual reminder that if we haven't, it's a good time to think about it with holidays coming,” McNeil said.

Hannah Schrodt is the news editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach her via email at hannah.schrodt@lee.net.

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