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Forget Amazon and shop local this holiday season.

Small, local businesses have been seriously hurt by the pandemic this year. 

According to a Yelp report, nearly 100,000 have permanently closed in the US since March 1. 

In Arizona, nonessential businesses had to close from March 31 through early May, resulting in over a month of lost in-person sales. And certain businesses underwent a second closure from June 29 through the end of August. 

For those businesses still hanging on, there’s a lot on the line this holiday season—the most lucrative time of year. 

RELATED: Thousands of Arizonans Are Going Into the Holidays Unemployed

But COVID-19 presents challenges for traditional shopping. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention includes “shopping in crowded stores” in its list of high-risk holiday activities

Luckily, there’s a way to support local businesses without compromising health. 

Arizona Marketplace

It can be hard to shop local online. Some businesses rely on in-person sales and don’t list their products for sale on a website, or they’re hard to find. 

This year, Local First Arizona, a nonprofit that promotes small businesses in the state, created a webpage to bring those businesses into one, easy-to-find location. 

The Arizona Marketplace features more than 50 local vendors, offering state pride apparel, locally made beauty products, and more. 

Some listings include:

  • A virtual aerial yoga pass from Phoenix studio Elevate Yoga & Wellness
  • A selection of wines from Sonoita-based Dos Cabezas WineWorks
  • A line of Mexican spiced chocolates from Carolina’s Chocolates in Mesa
  • Handcrafted jewelry from Tucson-based Casa Kira

“Through our small business recovery work this year, one thing has been made clear: small businesses will need to compete with big-box retailers and Amazon to make it past the new year,” Local First executive director Thomas Barr wrote in a press release. “The marketplace brings together local favorites such as Changing Hands to startup businesses such as My Little Mascara Club—all in one place for consumers to find—and makes it easier than ever to shop local and keep dollars in our home.”

More options

If you’re looking for something not in the marketplace, you can also check Local First Arizona’s business directory, which has hundreds of listings. Some stores cut out of the risks of in-person shopping by offering curbside pickup or delivery options. 

Don’t forget about local restaurants, too—many are hurting just as much as shops. Complement your productive holiday shopping with some takeout or delivery. Or, if you’re in a doubly giving spirit, you can donate meals from a local restaurant to a nearby hospital, fire station, or other place staying open during the holiday. 

Gift cards are also a good way to help support businesses now, even if you don’t need anything at the moment. You can include them in Christmas gifts or buy them for yourself for future use. 

You can still help, too, even if you have no money to spend. Sharing your favorite businesses’ pages on social media and giving them positive reviews can help increase their visibility and bring in some sales. 

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