Arizona Businesses Adapt For Holiday Shopping As Pandemic Continues

By Lauren Gilger, Amanda Luberto
Published: Tuesday, November 24, 2020 - 12:35pm
Updated: Wednesday, November 25, 2020 - 7:45am

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Chris and Courtney Marks own Shrubwel
Chris and Courtney Marks own Shrubwell.

We are heading into the holiday season and that means a lot of us are about to do a lot of shopping. But with COVID-19 cases in Arizona and across the country spiking, a lot of that shopping may be online. 

Amazon is likely expecting sales to skyrocket. But this is also the time of year in the Valley when local retailers need to boost sales. And without a bevvy of local markets and festivals operating in the same ways they normally do, they are having to get creative. 

“A lot of it is really a discovery process, coming out to the markets and seeing for yourself and trying things," Chris Marks said. "But, on the other side, a lot of it does come from word of mouth referrals and gift-giving as well. You know, sharing something that’s locally made that you personally love, sharing that with someone else, can help them discover a local business or vendor that they might not have been aware was here.”

Shrubwell makes old-fashioned mixers for cocktails or mocktails
Shrubwell makes old-fashioned mixers for cocktails or mocktails.

Marks is one half of the husband-and-wife owned local retailer Shrubwell. They make old-fashioned mixers for cocktails or mocktails. They were just finding their way selling at local farmers markets when the pandemic hit in the spring. 

So they — like many other local businesses — went virtual.

“So we pretty much launched our web store out of just a necessity to keep our products available to our existing customers and really just to branch out into a new — what we had hoped would be a new opportunity to broaden our sales beyond just the local community," Marks said.

It’s been a challenge for Shrubwell, like so many small businesses, to grow their business through a pandemic. And heading into the holiday season, Marks has one request: 

thomas barr
Rachel Perrella Photography
Thomas Barr is the executive director of Local First Arizona.

“And these days, being more than six months into the pandemic, I guess I would recommend that if anyone has a favorite local business that they used to more frequently visit, they should definitely look them up online and try and reach out, whether it’s on social media or look for their website," Marks said. "Very often, most every local business we’ve found has found some ways like us to adapt to online sales and make it easy to order locally and get it delivered just as fast as Amazon might.”

The small business advocates at Local First Arizona saw the writing on the wall — as online spending in the U.S. has shot up amidst the pandemic — and knew they needed to help local businesses compete. 

The Show talked about it with Thomas Barr, Local First executive director.

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