By pointing out that local retailers provide exceptional variety and personalized service – and can deliver these in a “COVID friendly” manner – the group hopes to focus attention on the need to curb our reliance on major online retailers, like Amazon, and focus on local merchants this holiday season. Local retailers have launched websites, begun offering delivery and curbside pickup, and many will help you select the perfect gift over phone, text or Facetime.
“Eight months into the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s heartbreaking to see how many stores have closed in our neighborhood. I hate to think my online shopping habits might have contributed to that” says Julie Blinbaum Marcovici, founder of the group. “It’s time to step up and support our local businesses, many of whom have been in the neighborhood for decades.” Marcovici started the project after watching so many neighborhood institutions permanently shut their doors as a result of the COVID crisis. “If we allow this to continue, we won’t have any local stores once the pandemic passes. I worry the problem will only be compounded this holiday season as the transmission rate increases and people become more anxious about walking into stores.”
The group operates a website – www.ShopUES.com – which provides a comprehensive guide to local retail coupled with an Instagram feed @ShopUESSaveOurStores that provides holiday shopping inspiration and spotlights local businesses. Jenny Blinbaum, another leader of the group, focuses on the personal stories of local storeowners who fear that after the Christmas season is concluded they may be forced out of business. “I grew up in the neighborhood and know so many of the store owners personally. I couldn’t stand by and not join in helping them. I can’t begin to tell you how important it is that everyone thinks local before spending outside the community.”
“You have no idea how much this means to our company and our brand” said Robbie Pasinkoff, owner of Little Eric Shoes. “The Upper East Side has been our home for 32 years. We have had to adapt in the pandemic – offering outside fittings, private appointments, and shortened store hours. It’s our loyal customers and neighbors that will keep us afloat.”
Save Our Stores | Shop UES is asking all Upper East Side residents to support their project and make the effort to help to buy local this holiday season.