Reading, MA – Christmas wreaths, the smell of hot cocoa, and packed halls of shoppers excited to take part in the holiday season by shopping locally. These are images that are emblematic of this time of year, or at least they were. Like everything else, COVID-19 has forced us to rethink how we can take part in our usual festivities, this time from a safe distance. For Wakefield residents Angela Nardone and Emma Thompson, the desire to support local businesses during the holiday season was personal.
“We got the idea to start the group because both Angela and I own small businesses (Thompson owns Emma T. Design, and Nardone owns Creations by Ang Wakefield). And since so many in-person craft fairs are being canceled this year because of Covid, we wanted to grow our own businesses but also help other small businesses do the same. And really just encourage more people to shop small this holiday season,” said Thompson.
The solution: a Facebook group aptly titled “Virtual Vendor Event Hosted by Angela & Emma”. Without the usual channel of holiday markets and craft fairs, small, locally-owned artisan businesses have been especially hard hit by the pandemic. The group strives to ease this financial pain by creating a space where businesses can post about what they are selling this holiday season and raise awareness of their services online.
“I’d say most of our vendors are artisans that sell anything from jewelry, stationery, candles, custom home decor, and other gifts. We also have a few direct sale vendors like Color Street and Scentsy,” said Thompson.
The Virtual Vendor Event group, created on November 8th of this year, currently has over 230 members and features over 22 local businesses that hail from Wakefield, Reading, and other local towns, including Cuevas Studios, Rylee Ray Creations, and Dipp’d Sweets.
The group will remain until the end of 2020, and Nardone and Thompson say they are open to adding more vendors. If businesses are interested in being added to the vendors list, Thompson suggests emailing her at email@example.com.
If residents are interested in finding other ways to support their local businesses this holiday season, Thompson says there are a myriad of ways to do so.
“I’d suggest asking your friends, family, and neighbors about their favorite small businesses. Check on Facebook too. There are bound to be other groups like this. Also, try Etsy. You don’t necessarily have to know the business owners to give them your support.”