Local small businesses make adjustments due to pandemic; embrace online merchandising

Businesses and holiday shopping

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Some local small businesses hope the holiday season treats them well. They have had to make adjustments due to the COVID-19 pandemic and now are creating or expanding their online merchandising.

Joanne Casey owns Alice and Amelia, a gift shop on Magazine Street. She opened it five years ago.

“I came up with the name because it’s my two little granddaughters and we figured it was a nice name,” said Casey.

Vera Warren Williams has owned the Community Book Center on Bayou Road for nearly 40 years.

“Growing up in the lower 9th ward I was surrounded by entrepreneurs as role models and coming from a family of entrepreneurs it’s fulfilling to have my own business,” said Warren Williams.

Casey’s shop is filled with unique merchandise, some of it is wearable and some not. “A lot of what we have is locally designed or locally made or handmade,” said Casey.

Warren Williams offers books galore and other items.

“Having a business that’s designed to not only educate our community but also to highlight the significant contributions that Africans have made to world civilization,” she said.

Both feel the effects of the global health crisis.

“It was going really good. It was going to be our best year, yet and then the pandemic hit, and we’ve had to switch and do things a lot differently than what we used to,” said Casey.

“The impact of the pandemic has been, you know, up and down. Initially, we were closed like everyone else and because we did not have E-commerce it made it very difficult,” said Warren Williams.

She hopes to get her online presence going over the weekend.

“After thirty-something years Community Book Center is about to launch our own website and we encourage people to visit it,” said Warren Williams.

Casey said she expanded her online merchandising because of the pandemic.

“So, we’ve had to do that, we’ve beefed up our social media. We spent a lot of time, I think the first month I spent probably a month redoing my website and trying to catch it up to date. The other thing that we did was Facebook lives which was so far out of my comfort zone,” Casey said with a chuckle.

Each year the Saturday after Thanksgiving is designated as Small Business Saturday and some local business owners are counting on that.

“We’re really looking forward to this weekend for small business Saturday when people intentionally come and shop with us as small businesses,” said Warren Williams.

And they hope the holiday shopping season gifts them with more customers. “I’m not sure, I’m hoping for the best. I’m hoping people will come out,” said Casey.

“Walk-ins, online, drive-bys, mail order,” said Warren Williams.

Copyright 2020 WVUE. All rights reserved.

See a spelling or grammar error in our story? Click Here to report it. Please include title of story.