We are just 17 days away from Christmas and small business owners are hoping people will finish off that holiday shopping list locally. It has no doubt been a difficult year for small businesses who’ve had to weather pandemic-related shutdowns, an uncertain economy, and new requirements and considerations to keep both customers and their staff safe. That means the holidays will be make or break for some and M&M Plaza Owner Keith Killen says choosing local is the only way to ensure your favorite shops will be around in the New Year.

In years past the goal for many retailers has been big sales drawing in big crowds, but Killen says the businesses he’s involved in and many others have had to get creative with their marketing tactics, including offering online shopping. However, that, too, has proved challenging from rapidly establishing e-commerce capabilities to even just spreading the word to customers about the online option.

Like most other activities, shoppers who are visiting these brick and mortar stores this season are encouraged to maintain a 6-foot distance from other shoppers and store employees, wear a mask or cloth face covering over their nose and mouth at all times, sanitize their hands frequently, and follow any arrows or instructions that might guide customers through aisles.