NewsGreat Falls News


Toy and gift shops struggle amid COVID challenges and large retailers

Posted at 2:44 PM, Nov 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-19 11:46:34-05

This time of year, many people are going about their holiday shopping - but this year with the Coronavirus pandemic, shopping trends are shifting.

Small businesses that typically do well during these months, such as toy stores, are beginning to feel the struggle of this change.

“This time it's kind of slow, today started off nice but like all retail, it’s hard to tell,” said Brooks Kelly, owner of Kelly’s Comics at 1201 10th Avenue South.

Owners of smaller shops say it’s become even more difficult to compete with online retailers like Amazon and large stores such as Target and Walmart. They say the pandemic also caused issues because their small spaces make it difficult to practice social distancing guidelines.

These stores are also experiencing difficulties with getting new inventory, as the warehouses they order from are operating with reduced staff.

“It’s so tough to gauge when stuff will be here,” said Lee Wiegand, owner of Let’s Play Games & Toys at 514 Central Avenue. “Sometimes it takes six months to get something and it’s really hard.”

A national survey of independent toy store and gift boutique owners found that 64% of these business owners did not believe they would make it through to next year.

Store owners would like to remind people to shop local this holiday season, as it could make all the difference in helping some small businesses survive.