COVID-19 One Year Later: How local shopping has changed

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Shopping can be retail therapy but our normal trips to the store were altered last March. And while there were closures, there were some surprising openings as well.

Kimberly Anderson and Wendy Born know all too well how COVID-19 has impacted the local retail industry.

"It's been challenging. It's been eye-opening," said Anderson.

"We have to figure out how to pivot. It's not insurmountable," said Born.

Both women are small business owners in Center City Philadelphia. Anderson owns Kimberly Boutique and Born owns Metropolitan Bakery.

Anderson said she had to completely rethink her business model.

"I've also learned I have to stop comparing my business to the model I had in 2019," she said.

Even down to what she buys to sell to her clients. A couple of dresses are all that's left of her workplace attire inventory.

"I had huge requests of clients saying, 'OK, I need Zoom tops, I need Zoom tops.' So, we definitely started getting tops more than dresses. Casual sweats but nice sweats so that you don't feel sloppy you feel put together but you're still casual," she explained.

She said she has also had to lower her price points. But she said her clients are loyal and she is happy to keep them happy.

Born said she was already in a bit of a transition to e-commerce, but the pandemic just pushed her over the edge. And she has seen a result she was not expecting.

"We suddenly realized we were able to ship the bread and people started going on the website. And we were literally shipping bread to people that lived on Locust Street two blocks away," she said.

One change the Center City District said is here for the long haul:

"Ecommerce is here to stay. It's still an incredibly small percentage of the overall retails sales in the world but it has grown greatly during COVID," said Michelle Shannon of the Center City District.

Unfortunately, there were store closures but what may be a little surprising is that there were openings, in fact over 30.

"Some of the vacancies that you may see now, if you listen carefully there's work going on behind the barricades," said Shannon.

That is encouraging news.

"You just have to keep on keeping on and assume that it will work," she said,

Born said Metropolitan Bakery now ships all over the country. And Anderson hopes once restrictions keep easing that she will one day be buying dresses again.

CENTER CITY DISTRICT - NEWLY OPENED IN 2020:

1. Sally, 2220 Spruce St

2. Lost Bread Co., 2218 Walnut St

3. The Garden, 24 S 24th St

4. Anchor Light, 1935 Chestnut St

5. The Goat, 1907 Chestnut St

6. Kevin O'Brien Studio, 1811 Chestnut St

7. Playa Bowls, 1804 Chestnut St

8. Huda, 32 S 18th St

9. Pizza in Style, 1735 Market St

10. Ancient Spirits & Grille, 1726 Chestnut St

11. Greens and Grains, 1700 Sansom St

12. Tiffany & Co, 1715 Walnut St

13. Allbirds, 1709 Walnut St

14. Interior Define, 1605 Walnut St

15. Govberg Jewelers, 1529 Walnut St

16. Sola Salon Studios, 1503 Walnut St

17. Hunnie's Crispy Chicken, 233 S Sydenham St

18. Evil Genius Brewing, 1602 Spruce St

19. Steak 48, 260 S Broad St

20. Dolce, 1439 Chestnut St

21. The Original Hotdog Factory, 125 S 15th St

22. Blind Barber, 1325 Sansom St

23. Cockatoo, 208 S 13th St

24. Dim Sum Factory, 1304 Walnut St

25. Super Spartan, 105 S 13th St

26. Sueno, 114 S 12th St

27. Remi Ricotta, 1121 Walnut St

28. Schmear It, 19 S 12th St

29. Federal Donuts, 21 S 12th St

30. The Wayward, 1170 Ludlow St

31. Morea, 110 S 11th St

32. Kate Spade New York Outlet, 901 Market

33. American Heritage Federal Credit Union, 714 Market St

34. Pizza Fresca, 707 Chestnut St

35. Flowers & Co, 267 S 19th St
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