Small Business Saturday gave some struggling local businesses a fighting chance

ATLANTA — It’s always a challenge for small, locally based businesses to compete with national chains, which is part of why “Small Business Saturday” was born.

It’s particularly important in the Metro Atlanta area, where according to a September survey by Yelp, the region is 13th on a list of major metropolitan areas with the most closures because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The same survey ranked Georgia 10th overall in the U.S.

Yelp says roughly 60% of businesses that shut down for the pandemic will not ever reopen.

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Friedman’s shoes has been an Atlanta institution for more than 90-years. The store specializes in larger shoes and caters to celebrities like Shaquille O’Neal. Channel 2′s Audrey Washington spoke to the stores owner Brett Teilhaber who said the COVID-19 pandemic hit his business hard.

“I think it’s important to remember the local guys. The pandemic has been catastrophic for the shoe business,” Teilhaber said.

Teilhaber did say Small Business Saturday was good for business. He says a lot of his loyal customers came out to shop.

“I think for the most part everyone roots for the small business guy, nobody wants to see the little guy go and we want to be there,” Teilhaber added.

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Kennesaw State University professor Roger Tutterow says for a lot of small businesses, the holiday season will either make or break them.

“We’ve done pretty well as of late bringing activity out of retail sales its just that we have a pretty big hole to fall out of,” Tutterow said.

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Washington spoke with Alexis Ruginis who owns Veo-Leo, a Spanish language children’s book company.

“One of the things we use the most in the books is a really strong sense of art,” Ruginis explained.

She says her online sales are doing well, thanks in large part to virtual learning. But Ruginis also says she and other business owners need more help from the community during the holiday season.

“It’s important we support our local businesses as much as we do. I’m a small business owner,” Ruginis said.