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'It's great we can keep serving' | Thanksgiving rush brings needed boost for small businesses

Following months of challenges brought on by the pandemic, the holiday rush from customers looking to buy items for Thanksgiving brought a boost for some stores.

WASHINGTON — Following months of challenges and drops in revenue due to the pandemic and economic downturn, the rush to pick up items ahead of Thanksgiving brought a boost to some small businesses in the region on Wednesday.

At Pie Sisters in Georgetown, a line of customers stretched down the block around lunchtime.

According to manager Juan Aldarran, the store's pie supply sold out in just 45 minutes on both Tuesday and Wednesday.

"I think it’s wonderful that at least we are sold out for the whole week and I’m sure other businesses are the same," he said.

Inside the shop on Wednesday, stacks of white boxes containing the delicious desserts waited to be picked up by lucky ones who were able to secure a reservation weeks ago.

According to Aldarran, key lime and apple pies were the most popular selections this year.

Multiple other businesses contacted by WUSA 9, including local grocery stores like Wagshal's, said Wednesday brought large crowds getting items for Thanksgiving. While the holiday rush was a welcoming sight this week, it came as the pandemic continues to bring plenty of stress and heartache for business owners.

Due to shutdowns and restrictions, including curfews and capacity limits, the economic downturn has led to some shops and restaurants wondering if they can stay open.

As cases of coronavirus surge around the country, the situation could grow even worse over the next few weeks and months.

According to data from the National Federation of Independent Business released in late October, more than one-in-five small businesses may need to close their doors if conditions do not improve.

The group also released findings from a survey in late October that found 75% of small business owners would apply or consider applying for a second Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan.

The challenges have been felt in Georgetown, where Aldarran said the pie shop has experienced some hardship.

"We don’t have the same amount of customers in the street," he said. "We don’t have the same number of tourists in this area. You see a lot of businesses and little places like this are already out of business.” 

Aldarran hoped the boost from customers would continue through Christmas and New Year's Day.

For the pie shop and other small businesses, he remained grateful for the support from customers during a tough year.

"They’re making a big effort to come out of their house when it’s not safe and come in here to grab a pie," he said. "It’s not a clear path for the future of small businesses. We’re a little worried about what is next but right now, we feel confident because the customer is still supporting the store.” 

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