Shop Local SJ campaign seeks to give local businesses a boost during pandemic

ByMatt Boone KGO logo
Friday, December 18, 2020
'Shop Local SJ' campaign aims to help struggling small businesses
With "Shop Local SJ," the city is helping connect small businesses with tools to market their business online.

SAN JOSE (KGO) -- During what would normally be the busiest time of the year, the City of San Jose is trying to help struggling businesses amid tightening restrictions.

With Shop Local SJ, the city is helping connect small businesses with tools to market their business online.

"We're working with Get Virtual, a great non-profit that helps get talented college students out there helping many of our businesses get on the web, create a social media presence," said Mayor Sam Liccardo.

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The city is aggregating all the websites on the Silicon Valley Strong website, hoping to make it easier for shoppers to find local businesses to support online.

"This is an effort that is going to be crowdsourced," said Mayor Liccardo. "Really leveraging the collective buying power of our community to be able to help our neighbors stay employed."

On Lincoln Avenue in San Jose's Willow Glen neighborhood, the few businesses that are allowed to stay open say business has been slow.

"Overall, I'd say it's 50 percent less," said Frank Bejan, owner of Mariette Chocolates, referring to his sales this holiday season compared to 2019.

While business has been picking up recently with online, phone and delivery orders, he said he's also worried about overstocking.

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"The problem is getting the business ready for the Christmas rush which is not easy not knowing if there are going to be customers or not," said Bejan.

Normally they'd also get a fair amount of foot traffic. While he is allowed to have three customers inside at a time, that is rare.

"People are afraid to go out," he said.

Down the street, the manager of Boutique Dandelion Lana Vo said after outdoor dining closed, sales at her store also fell.

"People love our products but they say they can't buy them because they don't have anywhere to go," said Vo, noting the interconnected side effects of having so many holes in the economy.

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