The holiday shopping season has gotten off to an early start in 2020, as stores try to make up for declining sales throughout the pandemic. For independent retailers, this crucial sales period may decide whether they are able to survive into 2021. Now more than ever, shopping local is a vital priority for communities to maintain a welcoming, vibrant atmosphere as well as a healthy tax base for public services.
“It’s no secret that many local businesses have faced an uphill battle since last spring,” notes Tensley Garris, President of the Northbrook Chamber of Commerce. “Supporting these stores and restaurants through the tough times will help preserve Northbrook as a destination for shopping, dining and entertainment. In addition, our Village, schools, park district, and other services rely heavily on local sales tax dollars.”
Fortunately for shoppers, many Northbrook small businesses have gone above and beyond to make their products easily accessible. For example, the convenience of online shopping no longer applies only to big national chains; over the summer, local retailers have enhanced their websites to encourage online browsing, cutting down the amount of time shoppers spend in the physical stores. Family-owned Shellé Jewelers added hundreds of products to their website as a resource for customers.
“Only about 5% of our sales go through the internet,” notes Shellé President Brian Millman, “but there’s a huge amount of pre-shopping taking place on the website. Most people who come in are not wasting time. They’ve got the idea of what they want and just need to see it and hold it to be sure.”
Curbside pickup is another service option available from many local businesses to enhance safety and convenience. The Book Bin in downtown Northbrook uses the bench outside their storefront as a collection spot for online and phone orders, and craft specialty stores Three Bags Full and Emily’s Stitchery have assembled project kits that can be gifts for hobbyists or finished by the purchaser. At Northbrook Court, a number of retailers will accommodate curbside pickup requests as well.
Shoppers can find local gift inspiration with free resources provided by the Northbrook Chamber of Commerce and the Village of Northbrook:
• The free Live Shop Dine Northbrook mobile community program connects text message subscribers to special offers and local information from over 90 local businesses. To sign up, text NBK to 55678.
• Follow “Nicki the Northbrook Shopping Elf” on Facebook and Instagram for gift ideas and holiday promotions from stores and restaurants in the village. Visit liveshopdinenorthbrook.com for comprehensive lists of local restaurants and shopping centers, with links to websites and directions.
“The retail business community, and especially small businesses, are essential to the well-being of Northbrook as a whole,” notes Garris. “We encourage residents to take advantage of the resources and special services available to connect with local businesses for their holiday shopping this year. Local spending this year will have a visible impact on Northbrook far beyond 2020.