DMV small business owners prepare for a different kind of holiday shopping season amid pandemic

Holiday shopping is just one more thing the pandemic has turned upside down this year.

Businesses across the DMV, especially small independently owned businesses, are finding ways to safely bring in customers even before the holiday shopping season begins.

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With the pandemic still raging on, it’s evident that shopping this year is likely to be quite different.

“We are working overtime,” said Megan Podolsky, who owns designer and luxury consignment boutique, Mint Condition, children’s consignment store 529 Kids Consign and is the president of the Old Town Boutique District.

Podolsky said she isn’t denying how the pandemic has created challenges to try and keep the doors opens, but she said that even when everything was shut down back in March, the entire small business community re-evaluated how they are going to bounce back.

“We just changed our business models to keep afloat and keep our employees employed,” said Podolsky.

That momentum, it seems, is continuing as other small independently owned businesses within Old Town Alexandria are finding creative, if not, new innovative ways to get people to shop local again especially in-person, safely. 

That includes putting in shields and dividers at cash registers and making sure that no one enters without wearing a mask first. 

In an effort to support Alexandria’s large community of independent boutiques throughout the winter, "Visit Alexandria" announced three new promotions for shoppers. That includes Alexandria Shop Small Week, the Alexandria Santa-gram Giveaway and the digital Guide to Alexandria Holiday Shopping.

Other festivities include Plaid Friday, which is Alexandria’s Small Business Black Friday on Nov. 27, where nearly 50 independent shops, many opening early, will offer some of their best deals of the year.

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On small business Saturday on Nov. 28, visitors can take advantage of free parking, prizes from the Elf Patrol and dozens of businesses featuring discounts or gifts with purchase.

“We are preparing to do home deliveries, and free shipping, so if people are not comfortable with coming out we will do a balancing act this year,” said Katya Ananieva, owner of She’s Unique Jewelry Boutique.

“We just want to present a sense of normality,” said Thomas Griffin, assistant manager at Fatface.