Area business owners encourage community members to shop local

Panama City

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB)– Opening a boutique has been a 10-year dream for Amber Nguyen, who opened the doors to her boutique Ash & Stone back in early March.

“Covid happened, so we were open for a week and a half and had to shut down,” Nguyen said.

Nguyen was able to once again open her storefront on May 2. She said she was still able to conduct much of her business online but still took a hit financially.

“This is just such an unprecedented year, I don’t think anyone could have imagined anything like this happening,” Nguyen said.

Nguyen said she, like many other business owners, will be relying on the holiday season to provide a boost for her business.

Due to the pandemic, Black Friday across the nation will look a little different this year, with many bigger chain stores reducing their hours or closing entirely on Thanksgiving Day to stop large crowds from gathering.

Nguyen said she hopes that people will recognize how hard this year has been for small business owners, and are inspired to shop local.

“For Black Friday we’re going to do 20 percent off a $100 or more purchase. We’re focusing mainly on the 12 days of Christmas so once we get into like the second and third week of December, we’ll be running different deals every day,” Nguyen said.

Nguyen said they will operate at normal store hours, 10:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. on Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for Small Business Saturday.

For Ash & Stone Boutique customer, Kisha Moore, the decision to shop local was an easy one.

“Their clothes are unique and different. I haven’t seen clothes like this except for online, and I don’t typically like to shop online for my clothes because I like to try on the clothes,” Moore said.

Panama City Boutique, Plum Delightful said they are hoping the holiday season brings more business. The store has faced especially hard times over the past few years and is still seeing recovery from Hurricane Michael.

“On top of the shop struggles, we had our own personal struggles, and then you know you have that and you’re trying to get back up and now you have the pandemic so it’s been a hard couple years,” Plum Delightful owner, Ashley McDaniel said.

Plum Delightful said they will open their doors at 8 a.m. on Black Friday and close at 6 p.m. They will also offer doorbusters and buy one get 60 percent off deals. On Small Business Saturday, they will be open from 10:30 a.m. until 6 p.m.

Both Nguyen and McDaniel say that shopping local is a small deed, with lasting impacts.

“When you shop in the community it stays in the community. It goes to your schools and your fundraisers,” McDaniel said.

Nguyen said she and other businesses participate in Faithful Fridays which commit to giving 10 percent of their proceeds from that day to a local charity. Right now she said they are donating the proceeds to the Gulf Coast Children’s Advocacy Center.

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