ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Retail businesses of all kinds took a direct hit when the coronavirus pandemic shutdowns came in March and small businesses suffered more than the big retail chains.
"I am down probably 40-50 percent from where I was last year," shared Julie Dye of Blossom and Shine. "It's been a transition from doing a market every weekend to not doing any markets since March. My sales, about 50-60 percent, came from the market"
Another small business owner, Danni LeTendre of Spring Green Handbags said, "Easily for me, it's about 75 percent. My items being one-of-a-kind, people like to hear the story behind it, so that's where the markets and the one-on-one interactions are so valuable for the type of products I make."
Dye and LeTendre were some of several small business owners looking for a solution to help them stay afloat during this time.
"Back in, I guess it was in April, I had seen some packages that other people were offering. They were mostly for perishable goods, food items," Dye explained. "And I thought, that would be pretty cool to do with handmade goods, especially if it was for something in St. Pete because there are so many businesses in St. Pete that rely on markets that have nothing going on now."
So five women-owned small businesses put together a care package right before Mother's Day. Spring Green Handbags, Blossom and Shine, Playa Paper, Fox and Crow Paper Company and Black Crow Coffee joined forces for this endeavor.
It included a "For the love of St. Pete" pouch, a pair of sterling silver heart earrings, three greeting cards, four St. Pete stickers and a one-pound bag of locally roasted coffee beans.
The package was a surprising success and it provided money directly to all of the small businesses that were hurting.
They call it the ‘Sunshine City Care Package’ and they put a second one together in July with a summer theme that had similar success.
"The next care package will be available starting ‘Small Business Saturday’, which is the day after Black Friday," stated Dye.
"It means we can keep our head above water basically." shared LeTendre, "It's not going to be end-all to solve all financial issues, but it definitely means that we're able to survive."
The next package is on sale starting November 28. Keep Saint Petersburg Local posts the information on their Facebook page which you can find here: https://www.facebook.com/keepsaintpetersburglocal/.
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