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Downtown Valdosta shops thrive amid coronavirus pandemic

Posted at 11:32 PM, Aug 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-18 23:33:03-04

VALDOSTA, Ga. (WTXL) — Businesses in downtown Valdosta are defying the odds, seeing an increase in business amidst the pandemic.

The city, and at least one business, says they've done better in the past few months than this time last year.

Angela Crance and her family own Art and Soul Valdosta, in the downtown area for five years now.

"We were amazed, we were just so busy," said Crance.

The shop shut down with Governor Brian Kemp's Executive Order to close non-essential businesses.

Crance says although they weren't letting anybody inside the shop they were fully operational.

"They call us, we take their card over the phone," Crance said. "We wrap up their gifts or their purchase and they text us and we pop it right in their truck when they get here."

It's not just Crance's business changing how they operate.

Many, if not all, downtown Main Street shops are doing it too.

"Business owners have really figured out how to be flexible with their business models and just really adapt to the new way of doing business and what customers want to see," said Crance.

Customers have shown so much support that Main Street has seen three new businesses open and two others expand during the pandemic, bringing roughly 25 new jobs to the area.

Ellen Hill, the director of Main Street says they credit the boom in business to the local stores and restaurants as well as the people supporting them.

"It’s just a real testament to the 'Shop Local' movement that we have going on right now," said Hill. "I think that people are really pushing shop local in your community, support your neighbors."

With more businesses looking to open in the downtown area, Valdosta is hoping other communities will take their lead to promote shopping local.

"The pandemic definitely brought out the good in people we just were supported so much during that hard time for so many people," Hill said.

Due to COVID-19, most Main Street businesses have moved to curbside or appointment-only.

If you would like to support them please call ahead.