By HANNAH SIEVERT
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS
Even in the midst of a pandemic, Downtown Bend was busy with shoppers this week.
Leapin’ Lizards Toy Company was full of customers buying last minute gifts on Tuesday.
“People have made it a point to let us know they’re not doing online this year, that they really want us to stay in business and support us,” Suzy Reininger, the store’s owner, said.
Reininger said revenue has been strong in October and November, possibly because kids are staying home.
“We’re all feeling the effects of COVID and our business is struggling and we’re trying to be supportive of each other,” Reininger said. “And it’s really shown through. People have been very generous.”
Mindy Aisling, executive director of the Downtown Bend Business Association, said a solid financial situation is not the case for every store downtown.
“Some businesses are doing OK all things considered,” Aisling said. “Other businesses might have a month or two and are just hanging on.”
It might look like Downtown Bend has its usual amount of December customers, but Aisling said traffic is down.
“I hear from businesses that it’s not quite as busy as it has been,” Aisling said.
Closed restaurants might be a factor.
“With the restaurants at limited capacity, we’re missing a key component,” Aisling said. “If you think of a three-legged stool, one of those legs is missing right now.”
Aisling said locals who want to make a difference should shop local.
“It’s Christmas, everyone is doing everything they can to seize this season before we go into January and February, which are the coldest, darkest, slowest seasons of the year,” Aisling said.
For Reininger at Leapin’ Lizards, this December is proving to be the busiest of busy seasons.
“We are so incredibly thankful,” Reininger said. “People are showing up to shop locally and honestly we’re on target to have our best Christmas ever.”