By Jim Newell
It’s been a tough year for local businesses, many of which were shut down from in-person shopping in the spring due to the Coronavirus pandemic and forced to stay in business by leveraging online sales as best as they could.
Other businesses have even had to close their doors for good.
But as local, small businesses try to rebound, Orion area shoppers did their part to help stimulate the local economy this weekend, showing up in force for Shop Small Business Saturday, a day when consumers are encouraged to head down to main street and support locally-owned businesses.
Lloyd Coe, owner of Ed’s Broadway Gift & Costume, was pleased with business on Small Business Saturday.
“We were busy and we did have people come out and support us on Saturday,” Coe said.
The support was especially important given that, because of the pandemic, Halloween activities were downsized this year and the Orion Lighted Parade was canceled – two events where Ed’s usually sells and rents out costumes.
In Sarah’s Bath Boutique on Broadway Street, owner Sarah Luchsinger said she had a good day of sales – which was especially pleasant given that she was also celebrating her second anniversary of being open in downtown Lake Orion.
Jennifer Meier, owner of Green Hippo Gifts, was busy with customers from 8:30 a.m. until she closed on Saturday evening.
“It was a successful day. I just want to thank everyone for coming out. We are a really awesome community for supporting small businesses,” Meier said. “(Saturday) was so fun. I never wanted it to end.
Meier says that while she is still open for people to shop in-person, she continues to have customers who shop online and then arrange to pick up their orders outside the shop.
“There’s a lot of curbside pick up orders. People want to shop safely and that’s great,” said Meier, who delivers orders to customers at a curbside delivery spot on Broadway Street.
Most businesses are also cognizant of the current health orders and provide masks for those who forget one, hand sanitizer and encourage social distancing and capacity limits.
Downtown Development Authority Executive Director Molly LaLone said she was glad people supported the downtown businesses.
“The business community says ‘Thank you.’ There are businesses that are grateful for people supporting them and shopping local,” LaLone said.
As an incentive to encourage consumers to shop in the Lake Orion business district, the Lake Orion DDA is again running its Passport Contest, a purchasing program that runs now through Dec. 18.
Shoppers who visit a store in the DDA district – in downtown Lake Orion or on M-24 (between Eva’s and Jacobsen’s Flowers) – and spend at least $25 in one purchase will get their Passport marked by the store employee.
For every four $25 purchases, people will get a reward from the DDA. To continue to support local businesses during these difficult times, the DDA is doubling Santa Bucks dollar rewards through the end of the contest, LaLone said.
The first reward (for four $25 purchases) is $20 Santa Bucks to spend at any location downtown. Additional rewards include merchandise, $50 Santa Bucks and a mystery bonus after 16 purchases.
Passports and complete contest details are available in downtown businesses and at the Lake Orion DDA Office, 118 N. Broadway St. Shoppers do need to save their receipts and passports and the DDA can redeem their rewards in-person or virtually.
“People can take a photo of their receipts and Passport, email it to us and then we’ll mail them their Santa Bucks,” LaLone said.
Email email@example.com or call the DDA at 248-693-9742 for more information.
Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter encouraged people to support local businesses, especially during these difficult times.
“It’s exciting to see Oakland County merchants joining the nationwide Shop Small movement to celebrate small businesses on Saturday and every day,” Coulter said. “Customers who patronize our downtown shopping districts are helping them to thrive and stay vibrant – Oakland County’s mantra is shop local, eat local and spend local.”
Since 2010, people have spent an estimated $120 billion in all 10 Small Business Saturdays combined, according to information from Oakland County.
More information about COVID-19-related safety measures in Oakland County is at: www.oakgov.com/covid.
For information on downtown Lake Orion’s Shop Small Business Saturday, visit downtownlakeorion.org.