Local business owners ask shoppers to remember small businesses this holiday season

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – With the festive season in full swing, local business owners are hoping their stores won’t be forgotten in the turmoil as they look to bounce back from the challenges of 2020.

It’s a welcome sight, with community members gathering outside the windows of Harrison Brothers Hardware in downtown Huntsville to admire the annual holiday model train display.

“We have a lot of people coming out, more than last year, certainly. And they are happy. They are thrilled to be out,” said store manager Cheryl Sexton.

This effervescence is also felt at the checkout.

“From our months last year to months this year, sales have doubled, maybe some of them have even tripled,” Sexton said.

But the pandemic has left its mark, the lingering side effects of a backed-up supply chain spreading from Southern California ports all the way to the Southeast, affecting artists and artisans, like the more than 30 vendors who work with Harrison Brothers.

“We have candle companies here in Huntsville struggling to get jars. So it was difficult to get the materials,” Sexton explained.

She says it’s more important than ever to support local businesses.

“It’s critical. We have seen what it does and we have seen what the virus has done to us. So it’s so important. They keep their money in Huntsville, in local businesses,” she said.

Huntsville-Madison County Chamber of Commerce officials said there are more small businesses in the community than you might think.

“Of our members, most of whose businesses are in Huntsville, Madison County, 67% have 20 or fewer employees,” said Claire Aiello, vice president of marketing and communications.

Sexton hopes the community support will continue to stay on track to carry over into the new year.

Gift cards are also available for local businesses in the Madison County area. They can be purchased through a website set up by the chamber of commerce.