EDMONDS, Wash. — Black Friday is the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season, and many people are choosing to shop local in support of small businesses struggling during the coronavirus pandemic.
In downtown Edmonds, lines formed at storefronts as shoppers worked to check items off their holiday shopping lists.
“Today I got some fun little decorative things at the Wooden Spoon,” said Ruthmarie Eide, who has lived in Edmonds for 31 years.
“I didn’t want to go somewhere else and find big crowds,” she said.
Eide made the conscious decision to shop local this Black Friday.
“I just hate to see what’s happening to so many of our small businesses. The restaurants are struggling, everybody is struggling,” she said.
It's a struggle that business owner Kimberly Koenig, who owns Rogue Boutique in downtown Edmonds, knows all too well.
“You lay awake at night and worry about all the little pieces and worry about your customers and worry about if your inventory is arriving on time,” Koenig explained.
She said this holiday season is make it or break it for many businesses, just like hers, that have fought to stay open during the pandemic.
“The holiday season shopping season really does, I mean, set the tone to be able to pay your bills for the entire year,” she said.
Snohomish County is stepping in to help struggling small businesses with their Support SnoCo campaign.
“We have no problem with all the big companies that help us through this tough time, but we also don’t want to have sort of ghost towns that appear after COVID is gone, because so many small businesses have been hurt by the pandemic,” said Kent Patton, Snohomish County executive communications director.
The county is partnering with businesses and cities to encourage shoppers to spend their big bucks at small businesses.
“We really want people to think twice about where they spend their money and support those local folks. Those are our neighbors, those are our family members and friends, and they need all the support they can get right now,” Patton said.
Edmonds is also holding a campaign to encourage shopping local.
Their annual event, “First Dibs,” will be spread out over a week instead of the typical one-night shopping event. More than 30 restaurants and retailers are participating and offering a special gift to anyone who spends more than $45 while supplies last.
“This is a chance for us to hopefully gain a little bit of traction in being able to ride out this pandemic,” Koenig said.
“I want to see everybody thrive and survive this difficult time,” said Eide.