Holiday shopping looks a little different this year — like everything else — due to the pandemic.

If you’re shopping in person, try to avoid crowds, bring hand sanitizer with you and wear that mask. Pre-game by checking out local shop Facebook pages and websites for gift ideas and shopping events.

With El Paso and Teller counties now in stricter Safe At Home levels as of last week, the impact on businesses is going to be even greater through the holiday shopping season. The holidays are typically boon to businesses, but this year the end-of-year sales are more important than ever to the bottom line.

“Downtown Partnership implores you to lean in to supporting our small businesses and independent restaurants like never before,” stated the Colorado Springs organization in an email last week.

Some of their suggestions on how you can help your favorite businesses:

• Continue ordering takeout. With these capacity limits, it’s nearly impossible for restaurants to cover their overhead, so every order helps. And, for those comfortable with the option, limited indoor dining capacity remains.

• For retail shops, most shopping in our unique downtown boutiques can continue at 25% capacity. Consider shopping during less busy days and hours, such as weekday afternoons.

• Take advantage of curbside pickup. There are 16 curbside pickup parking spaces throughout downtown, for easy pickup of retail and meal orders. Simply pull in the space, call the store or restaurant, stay in your vehicle, and your order will be brought to you.

• Be patient and kind. Our restaurateurs and shopkeepers are doing their very best to survive these difficult times and to serve you. Call ahead before visiting a restaurant, tip generously, share a smile.

• Make a personal or family pledge for how you will consistently support our Downtown small businesses in these weeks and months ahead – whether it’s committing to a certain night every week for takeout or visiting our shops on a quiet weekday afternoon.

Whether you’re in the Springs, Woodland Park, Monument or surrounding towns, I urge you to support your favorite local businesses and try out some new ones. They are trying to stay afloat through this unsteady business climate.

“Small retailers have had to get creative to keep the lights on after dealing with temporary closures and restrictions amid the coronavirus pandemic. They’re preparing for a holiday shopping season unlike any they have ever experienced,” states a recent article in USA Today.

“The conditions retailers have to deal with this season could lead more people to shop small, giving some of the businesses hit hardest in the pandemic a competitive edge”

If there are shops that you love in your own neighborhood, give your business to them. Instead of clicking on the websites of the large online retailers, make visits to or ask about private shopping times or “FaceTime” virtual shopping possibilities at your favorite local sellers. Many offer extended hours, accommodations for those who wish to limit social interactions and have employed intensive cleaning and safety practices. Several offer online shopping, gift wrapping and will even ship items for you.

The added bonus of shopping at small local stores is personalized attention and customer service. These retailers know their stuff!

We’re quickly approaching Small Business Saturday, which falls after national “shopping holiday” Black Friday, and encourages shoppers to focus on local, small businesses. But this year I urge you to make every holiday shopping day small-business focused.

If you want to continue to shop your favorite local stores in the months to come, root for them with your wallet!

Editor of the four Pikes Peak Newspapers weeklies, Michelle Karas has called the Pikes Peak region home for more than five years. Contact her at michelle.karas@pikespeaknewspapers.com.

Editor, Pikes Peak Newspapers

Michelle has been editor of the four Pikes Peak Newspapers (Pikes Peak Courier; Tri-Lakes Tribune; Cheyenne Edition; and Woodmen Edition) since June 2019. A Pennsylvania native and Penn State journalism graduate, she joined The Gazette's staff in 2015.

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