NEWS RELEASE FROM THE OFFICE OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
Contact: Karissa Braxton, Karissa.Braxton@seattle.gov
City of Seattle and Community Partners Launch ‘Shop Your Block’ Holiday Campaign to Support Small Businesses
City develops new small business map to connect the public to local retailers for the holiday shopping season
SEATTLE (November 20, 2020) — Today, the City of Seattle launched the new Shop Your Block retail map as part of the larger public campaign—Shop Your Block—that aims to support small businesses throughout the holiday season. Shop Your Block connects consumers to local small retail businesses throughout Seattle using the new retail map and online neighborhood marketplaces. This campaign is the result of partnerships between the City, Comcast, small business owners, business district organizations, and community partners. Shop Your Block celebrates Seattle’s unique character and encourages the public to support local retailers in their neighborhood —in person or online— this holiday shopping season.
The new Shop Your Block map allows users to find local retailers across the City. Users are able to search for retailers near them, or search for businesses by name, address, neighborhood, or product keywords. The map will also display operation days and hours per business, identify if a business is open for in person shopping, online shopping, curbside pickup, or appointment only. Businesses are also able to display if they are BIPOC, Woman, LGBTQ+ or Veteran owned. Business owners can add themselves to the map by completing a short questionnaire here.
“The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic downturn have impacted so many small businesses and workers. People are hurting. The necessary new COVID-19 restrictions will have a particularly profound impact on our small businesses as we head into what normally would be a busy holiday shopping season,” said Seattle Mayor Jenny A. Durkan. “The Shop Your Block campaign is central to the City’s commitment to creatively support our small businesses during this challenging time. As we head into the holidays, I encourage all Seattle residents to mask up, shop their block and support Seattle’s incredible small business community.”
“Small businesses are crucial to our city’s economic recovery, and they serve as the lifeblood of our communities. If you are able, consider shopping at a small business this holiday season, for everything from gifts to groceries for your family’s holiday meals. Between outdoor merchandise displays, curbside pick-up, online options and more, there’s no reason to not shop your favorite local stores,” said Councilmember Tammy J. Morales (District 2, South Seattle & the C/ID).
"Spending your money at locally owned businesses ensures your dollars stay in our community. You can protect public health and patronize your favorite neighborhood shops from the convenience of your home by using Neighborhood Marketplaces. When you shop in your neighborhood you keep small businesses open, your neighbors employed, and you help our local economy recover," said Councilmember Dan Strauss (District 6, Northwest Seattle).
Since the onset of COVID-19, local retailers have experienced severe economic hardships, navigated statewide closures, re-opening protocols, and changing consumer habits. According to the Workforce Development Council of Seattle King County, from March 1 through October 24, 30% of the retail trade industry has been impacted by layoffs, shutdowns, etc. as a result of COVID-19. Retail also ranks as the third highest industry of continuing unemployment insurance claims at 9.5%. Retail salespersons have the third highest continuing unemployment insurance claims in King County. As many retail businesses began ramping up for the holiday shopping season, new restrictions were announced by Governor Inslee in response to a surge of COVID-19 cases in Seattle and statewide, reducing in-person shopping capacity to 25% for retail stores.
“2020 has been a hard year, but here’s a chance for all of us to come together and give back in a positive way during the upcoming holiday season. Shop Your Block is a new effort we created with the Mayor’s Small Business Advisory Council and other business and community partners to celebrate and support our neighborhood small businesses who are struggling to get through this unprecedented economic crisis.” said Bobby Lee, Director of the Seattle Office of Economic Development. “Many retail businesses are relying on this holiday season to re-coup some of their financial losses since the onset of this pandemic. Shop Your Block allows all of us to shop safely while showing our support for our small businesses. Join us!”
“The culture of our city depends on the unique and creative small businesses that offer diverse points of view, products and experiences.” says Amy Augustine, owner of Flora and Henry located in Pioneer Square that specializes in women, home and children’s goods. “This is the moment for Seattle to choose to protect its small businesses. Why not fill this holiday with local, artisanal, boutique shopping. We promise we can deliver the magic for this home for the holidays moment.”
In response to the initial stay at home orders, DEI Creative and neighborhood business improvement area district organizations (BIAs) and business districts —partners of the Seattle Office of Economic Development (OED)—began to develop online marketplaces for neighborhood businesses to pivot their in person operations to an e-commerce platform. To date, neighborhood marketplaces are available for Pioneer Square, Capitol Hill, West Seattle, North Seattle, Ballard, University District and Pike Place Market neighborhoods, with other Seattle neighborhood marketplaces expected to come online soon.
“The Ballard Marketplace is a virtual shopping experience designed to support our downtown Ballard businesses and adapt to the new economic environment we’ve all been thrust into. The Support Local – Ballard Marketplace provides Ballard businesses with a new, or additional method, to generate online sales and gives shoppers, who wish to do their holiday shopping online, a way to visit and support all their favorite Ballard shops and restaurants during this challenging year,” said Ballard Alliance Executive Director Mike Stewart.
OED is also partnering with Comcast to film and produce promotional videos for Shop Your Block that highlight small businesses, the retail map and online marketplaces, and encourage the public to take part in shopping local this holiday season. Comcast also contributed $50,000 to support the creation of a digital platform with HomeSight that supports South Seattle neighborhoods such as Othello, Rainier Beach, Beacon Hill, Hillman City and Columbia City—one of the online marketplaces participating in the Shop Your Block campaign. In addition to supporting this campaign, Comcast has also partnered with OED to help small businesses and workers through the Small Business Stabilization Fund and Digital Bridge pilot program.
Most recently, Comcast announced a new nationwide grant program, Comcast Rise, which provides marketing, creative, media, and technology services to businesses owned by underrepresented groups, beginning with a focus on Black-owned businesses. The program aims to expand to other small and diverse business owners. Visit http://www.ComcastRISE.com for more information on eligibility requirements, and the latest updates.
“Now more than ever small businesses need support from across the community. We recognize that creative programs like this are critical to helping them find successes in the coming months,” said Rodrigo Lopez, Regional Senior Vice President of the Comcast Washington region. “We are proud to support Shop Your Block with resources and continue to find new ways as a company to make an impact on small businesses and groups of people who have been adversely impacted by this global pandemic.”
Shop Your Block is also partnering with Intentionalist—an online platform that supports small businesses and diverse local communities through its online directory, guides, marketplace, and gift cards. The gift certificate marketplace is a one-stop-shop for gift certificates from restaurants and retailers throughout the Greater Seattle area. Intentionalist’s holiday gift guides highlight gift ideas available for purchase at small businesses owned by women, people of color, veterans, Indigenous people, and people with disabilities.
“At Intentionalist, we believe that where we spend our money matters. Our Holiday Directory, Gift Guides, and Gift Certificate Marketplace make it easy to explore a variety of gift options that celebrate and support local businesses and the diverse people behind them. The small businesses at the heart of our communities are counting on all of us to #SpendLikeItMatters this holiday season,” said Intentionalist CEO, Laura Clise.
The public is encouraged to use the retail map and online marketplaces to not only shop local, but also shop early as this holiday season is expected to be very different from past years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Reduced in person shopping capacity will require retailers to limit the amount of people in the store, making online shopping the ideal option for many consumers. Shop Your Block supports users ability to safely shop online and maintain social distancing as the city continues to respond to COVID-19. Users who wish to shop in person are encouraged to shop early, and are required to wear a face covering and follow safety protocols local businesses have in place to maintain a safe shopping environment.
“Shop Your Block keeps your favorite shops in business. Consider shopping locally online or purchasing a digital or in-store gift card that not only supports the shops you love but keeps everyone safe,” says Binko Chiong-Bisbee, owner of KOBO, an artisan shop and gallery located in Capitol Hill and the International District. “Remember there are more options than Amazon. It requires a little more research and digging, but when you come across a small local business, do what you can to support its efforts so it will survive until we can get on the other side of this public health crisis.”
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the City of Seattle has worked quickly to launch COVID-19 relief programs for businesses and workers. Currently, OED is accepting applications for the Small Business Stabilization Fund, which offers $10,000 grants to small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. $4 million is available, and applications will be accepted through November 30, 2020. To date, OED has provided grants to 469 small businesses.