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Roanoke shop owners rely on holiday sales to keep doors open

Businesses owners in downtown Roanoke have been hit hard by COVID-19, especially this holiday season

ROANOKE, Va. – With corporate giants dominating online holiday sales, small local businesses are relying on shoppers’ dollars this holiday season to stay afloat.

After 38 years of business, this year started off slow for Laura Duckworth, co-owner of Gift Niche in downtown Roanoke.

“The next month of shopping is going to be important to us to just keep us in business,” she said.

Duckworth said sales normally trickle in at the start of October, but December’s sales alone help support her business till at least March. And other business owners seem to be in the same boat.

Just next door to Duckworth is Pauline Wood, the owner of Shades of Color boutique who hopes to sell enough winter apparel to keep her business going.

“All we can ask for is for them to come down and do the best that they can as far as buying whatever they have to give,” Wood said.

For four months, Wood had to close the shop, but she’s not giving up hope.

“Downtown has been a struggle and we’re coming back,” Wood said. “We’ve always been very strong and we will continue to be strong.”

Entrepreneur Ernie Dale is wondering if he will ever come back after his Roanoke Tour Incorporated service was forced to shut down after 25 years.

To other shop keepers who had to lock their door this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, he said he understands that pain.

“I understand what they are going through,” he said. “But of course I don’t know if we will do tours again. I just take it day by day.”

But to the business owners who are looking for a light at the end of the tunnel, Dale said keep pushing forward.


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