Mom-and-pop businesses count on community support, word of mouth during pandemic

You’ve probably heard this being said over and over again during the pandemic: shop local and support small businesses.

The message especially holds true for many businesses across the D.C. region that are either closed or are struggling to stay open.

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Never in the 34 years that Charlie Majdi has owned 1 2 Kangaroo in Shirlington did he ever think that keeping the doors open to his beloved toy store, one day, might be a worry.

"It’s been obviously a strange year," said Majdi.

It’s a year that has been especially tough for mom-and-pop businesses given that COVID restrictions in the area have been tightened once again over the fall and winter seasons.

"I don’t know what the next few months are going to hold like if the governor is going to shut down the stores and businesses," said Majdi.

That type of uncertainty is a common theme across communities where small businesses are relying on support from the locals, now more than ever.

"I’m blessed with a lot of loyal customers who want to see the store do well and are coming back," he said.

Majdi said that some of his customers even took to social media encouraging everyone to do their holiday toy shopping at his store and help him keep the business running into the new year. Some of them panicked and thought he was shutting down, but confirmed that he is not.

"I just put myself in all of these people’s shoes and it makes me sad," said Cynthia Hagemier of Arlington. "This is why I am here and not ordering from other big retailers."

"I have worked here in this neighborhood for twenty years so I feel a certain amount of loyalty to the stores that are here," said Joseph Bruns of Alexandria.

In the meantime, Majdi said he’s hopeful that if he can just pay the bills, he can get through this.

"Do I lose sleep at night? Yes," said Majdi. "Am I gonna give up? No. The kids won’t let me."

Majdi said that when it comes to online completion with big boxed retailers he’s not too worried. 

Majdi said he tried offering an online shopping service but it wasn’t for him and rather, the service was costing him more money. He said he is confident that just loyalty and word of mouth will help him stay open.