Six months ago California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a statewide stay-at-home order that temporarily closed many locally-owned businesses. As a result of the ongoing pandemic, many stores have had to reshape how they conduct business.
Linda Sherman-Murick, the owner of local bookstore Cellar Door Books said her company had to shift their focus to their online store.
“The vast majority of our business is now online, which has been a big change going from people walking into our store to all online,” Sherman-Murick said. “It makes us change the way we make people aware of books. The way we used to do it was people walked into the store and we had shelves, but now that’s completely changed and we’re just doing the best we can.”
Although business has been down recently, Sherman-Murick said it was interesting how her customer base has changed and how the pandemic caused customers to rally behind local businesses.
“Our sales are far less than they were before COVID, but we have a lot of different customers, and we have a lot of new customers that we gathered from online sales,” Sherman-Murick said. “I think during the crisis people began to understand that if they don’t give their business to local businesses we will not live. We will not make it. They realized their downtown without us would look a lot different.”
Students at California Baptist University have echoed the need to support small businesses.
Morgan Carlton, freshman kinesiology major, said local businesses are important because they offer a more personal alternative.
“They are much smaller and they usually have a more
homey and personal atmosphere to them. They offer a lot of unique things that department stores don’t have because local businesses have a more personal base,” Carlton said.
Mia Martinez, junior pre-nursing student, said local businesses need the public’s help more than ever.
“There’s not a lot of money flowing in our economy right now,” Martinez said. “They rely on us to help pay their bills and keep their doors open. These are people who need to live their lives, too, and we need to help them do that by giving them our business.”
Although local businesses have had to adjust their business to adapt to the pandemic, they are not the only ones who have felt the change. Big corporations such as Amazon have also had to adapt and are rapidly hiring new employees to help fill orders.
Sherman-Murick said although she understands why people support Amazon, she cannot hope to compete with a corporation of its size.
“Some customers want their orders fast and I understand that,” Sherman-Murick said. “A lot of people say ‘I can get this from Amazon in two days.’ Yeah, you can. We take more time. But we need your support or else we’re going to go away and I think those people need to realize what the world is going to look like if there aren’t small businesses in it.”
Cellar Door Books is currently filling pickup and online orders and filling 20-minute in-person appointments with only the customer and people from their household allowed. Students interested in visiting can make a reservation either via phone or through the Cellar Door website.