ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Since December 2019, three sisters have been running Southern Sassy Chics Boutique.
They visited schools and sold their clothes.
“Before the pandemic, we would go into schools and take all of our product there, and then we would give the school a percentage of the proceeds. So it helped them out as well as us,” Hannah Spencer, one of the boutique owners, said.
But little did they know, a pandemic would change their business model forever.
“But since the pandemic, we had to stop doing that and we had to find a location and we also had to go online. So, we have had to learn a lot since the pandemic. But thankfully, we’ve had very supportive customers and a community that has been supportive through it all,” said Spencer.
After moving their boutique online and opening a storefront, the sisters had to find a way to make up money that these new changes cost.
Since Friday, they’ve been having a labor day sale, with up to 40 percent off of clothing.
“We’ve found that sales throughout the season have helped bring business in. And we have our sales in-store and online, so that’s helped us to bounce back and balance out what we’ve lost during the pandemic,” said Spencer.
Several small businesses across Albany are facing similar circumstances. That’s why Albany City Commissioners have been working to distribute relief money to shops, stores, and eateries.
Back in April, the city was awarded over $500,000 from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Commissioners decided to use $350,000 of that money to help small businesses.
They matched that $350,000 with $350,000 of their own.
Small businesses could apply for up to $10,000 in relief money through the Small Business Relief Grant Assistance Program.
Commissioners were recently briefed on the results of that program.
“We received 162 applications with a total requested grant amount of $1,359,071, and a potential to assist in the retention of 485 jobs. We were able to approve $738,372,” Phyllis Brown, deputy director, said.
And while funding has been helpful to many Albany businesses, it’s the entrepreneurial spirit of small business owners that keep the doors open — even on Labor Day.
“We would like to continue the online sales, and the brick and mortar location, and also hopefully get back to doing the shows very soon as this season ends,” said Spencer.