Holiday shoppers turned to locally owned stores on the Central Coast to buy gifts for loved ones.
Residents participated in Small Business Saturday, traditionally held between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, as a way to support mom and pop shops in the community.
It's estimated 160,000 small businesses have been shut down in the U.S. this year because of the pandemic.
Many of them will never reopen.
That's why some business owners say the 11th annual Small Business Saturday might be pivotal to their survival.
“Shopping local is so crucial for 2020. It’s always been important, but this year it’s crucial for the success. There’s many of us that are just barely holding on," Karson Butler Events at Ah Louis owner Amber Karson said.
Karson sells party planning essentials and other themed goodies at her store located in the Ah Louis Store on Palm St. in San Luis Obispo.
To kick off the holiday season, she decked her store with gingerbread decor in hopes of encouraging people to take a peak inside.
During the pandemic, many business owners, like Karson, have had to pivot their businesses and sell more items online to survive leaner months of sales.
Karson says she has been strategically picking which products to carry in-store.
This year she has displayed more items from women-owned and Black-owned businesses as a way to support other small businesses within the community.
Changing where you spend money might be the saving grace small businesses are desperately hoping for during the holiday months.
“Our family is making a conscious effort to support local businesses this Christmas season," Vali Nemetz, a San Luis Obispo resident said.
San Luis Obispo County remains in the purple COVID-19 tier, which limits the number of customers in stores, but those who are willing to shop in-person have kept some business owners motivated.
Anne Gough who owns Yarns at the Adobe says her shop had to close down for three months at the start of the pandemic, which limited local supply options during quarantine.
"If you’re a knitter and you’ve been quarantined or you can't go anywhere, it’s really important to have your yarn," Gough said.
A study from Union Bank reports seven in ten people say shopping small outweighs a good deal this year.
Those shopping on the Central Coast this Saturday agree and appreciate the enjoyable experience of shopping local.
“The small businesses are definitely what makes SLO, SLO," Todd Chappius, a Santa Clara resident said.
Union Bank's holiday shopping survey also found 74% of U.S. consumers feel an increased sense of responsibility to support their community this year and more than half have already increased how much they shop and spend at small businesses.