After almost two years of COVID-19, businesses in Salem are moving forward
This year, Small Business Saturday is more than just a hashtag for local businesses in Salem.
It’s a celebration of another year of surviving the economic downturn, connecting to the community and giving back.
American Express founded Small Business Saturday Shopping Day in 2010 – a quieter local antithesis to the Black Friday business spending holiday.
Millions of people have supported the holidays in recent years by purchasing their holiday gifts from small businesses and dining at local restaurants.
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Small Business Saturday last year coincided with the two-week freeze in Oregon put in place to stem the rise in COVID-19 cases. Restaurants were limited to delivery and take-out only, and retail stores were given capacity limits and are still required to enforce mask warrants and distancing measures.
This year, companies are cautiously returning to more events and celebrations.
A long-standing company celebrates its 30th anniversary
The Arbor Gift Shop on 367 State St. celebrates its 30th anniversary in downtown Salem.
The store sells wine made from grapes from the local Miller La Chouette vineyard and olive oil made from olives grown in the Redding Grove outside of Salem. They also sell Christmas ornaments, decorations, gift baskets, and bath and body items.
It opened in 1991 as a cafe and gift shop. Marni Redding and Michelle Miller took over the property in 2019 and the previous owners retired. Redding said she had long thought about opening a store, but waited for her children to grow up before embarking on the business.
Months after taking over, the pandemic has swept through Oregon. Redding and Miller closed The Arbor for several months.
“It was sad because we had just set up our gift shop where we wanted it to be,” Redding said. “I would come and water my plants and I would sit in the store and I was like, ‘Oh, it’s like I’m all dressed up and I have nowhere to go.’
They offered curbside pickup, kept in touch with customers and weathered the worst of the lockdown.
“We feel like Salem really supports small businesses and we’re doing really well,” Redding said.
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They are now heading into the holiday season with fully stocked shelves. Redding said she was able to overcome current supply chain issues because she proactively stocked up on items in January.
Redding said they wanted to mark the 30th anniversary with a celebration, but avoided throwing a big party in light of the pandemic.
Instead, they mark Thanksgiving Shopping Weekend and Small Business Saturdays by giving away festive decorations like sprinkle trees and colorful baubles and having customers enter a raffle for a filled gift basket. of products sold at the store.
A lively shopping season is expected for the downtown area.
Redding said she liked the sense of community among the downtown stores and restaurants.
“I feel like we’ve all just come together, and it’s just a big group of companies here,” she said.
Toys, screen printing and activism
After years of operating an online clothing business, Bee Decker decided to open a retail store with her screen printing job when she moved to Salem.
She worked in the basement of the Salem Arts building until a location at 105 Liberty St. NE opened in 2019.
His business, The Freckled Bee, was also forced to reckon with pandemic shutdowns shortly after opening.
“We closed completely and it was quite difficult because we had just started,” Decker said. “We’re still trying to get over this a bit.”
She turned to curbside service, FaceTime shopping and online sales during shutdowns.
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Decker is also linked to community activism. She collects food donations at the pantry store for the Free Fridge Salem community.
Decker supports LGBTQ + rights, the Black Lives Matter movement, highlighting inequalities and is pro-vaccine. Its positions are frequently reflected in the merchandise offered in stores.
A recently published article portrayed a mug that read ‘Moms Don’t Let Your Babies Become Proud Boys’.
Decker said many in the community were supportive of the messaging, but she received threatening voicemails at 3 a.m. and her vehicle was vandalized by those she said were upset by her anti-racist and inclusive positions. .
“Anyone who feels uncomfortable with that, they don’t have to come in,” she said. “I guess… people who think racism is okay – I’d rather make them uncomfortable than anyone else.”
The store offers a wide selection of toys, clothing for adults and children as well as custom screen printing and engraving services. Decker said one of their most popular services, especially for holiday gifts, is personalized engraving.
Customers can bring in pictures – their children’s doodles, pictures, or phrases – and have them engraved on a mug while they wait.
The store will run a special purchase offer of three to get one on personalized mugs the weekend after Thanksgiving and will have a 10% sale on all Melissa & Doug wooden toys for those hoping to stock up on them. vacation.
Decker has also started a toy drive for children in need. Customers can bring in a new, unwrapped toy or purchase a toy in-store for the donation box.
Find local businesses to support
Looking for more local businesses to support? The Salem Main Street Association has a map of downtown restaurants, shops, and parking lots.
Travel Salem offers online guides on where to eat, drink, and shop in the Mid-Willamette Valley.
American Express maintains a map of small businesses across the country, including dozens in Salem.
The Salem Region Chamber of Commerce also maintains a business directory broken down by category.