CHICAGO (CBS) — The holiday festivity of the Christkindlmarket will be nowhere to be found in Daley Plaza this year, as the event has gone 100 percent virtual due to COVID-19.
Meanwhile, brick-and-mortar stores need holiday shoppers ASAP. As CBS 2’s Jermont Terry reported Thursday night, Christmas can’t come soon enough.
It’s hard to think about holiday shopping on Oct. 1, when there’s nearly a whole quarter to go ahead of the holidays themselves. But this shopping season won’t be like any other, and that’s leaving local boutiques – despite it being the start of October – with unique ways to get shoppers inside.
At the corner of Taylor Street and Western Avenue on the city’s Near West Side sits Kiwi’s Boutique. Inside, you’ll find owner Chiquita White making sure the store is holiday-ready.
“It’s not too early,” White said. “You should actually know what your holiday strategy is going to be at this point.”
After 15 years of operating, Kiwi’s faces what many local businesses are under – an uncertain fourth quarter.
“It’s so hard to determine how much to buy, you know, because you don’t know who’s going to show up, you know, during a pandemic,” she said.
News that 1 million people won’t get to fill Daley Plaza at Christkindlmarket equals less foot traffic and dollars trickling in. Local shops are ramping up online inventory.
“So I’m going to do a lot of things live, so that even though you’re at home, it’s going to make you feel like you’re actually here shopping,” White said.
In Ukrainian Village, the doors at Gemini, 1911 W. Division St., are open. Yet, the owner keeps track of how many can enter at once.
“We’re just trying to make it through to the other side,” said Gemini owner Joe Lauer.
What “the other side” looks like for mom-and-pop boutiques is unclear. But owners hope customers understand they can shop online and still stay local.
“Since we had to shut down in March, we’ve really expanded what we sell online and we’ve expanded the way we sell,” Lauer said.
It is a huge change from the one-day Small Business Saturday campaigns. But these owners know it is essential to keeping the shelves stocked.
“And we’re really just trying to push through it,” Lauer said.
“It’s really, it’s really tough,” White said.
While a lot of the boutiques will focus on online sales, they still have to have enough inventory for those who choose to walk inside.