Can rising gas prices and a plunging economy actually help small businesses? "People are shopping closer to home," says Amy LaPerle of bluehouse. She says the eco-friendly home goods store, which opened in December '05, is doing better than ever. "Our business is still growing," she explains.
Keith Losoya of Buy Local Baltimore, a group dedicated to educating the public about the benefits of shopping locally, says merchants have seen an increase in local foot traffic. "It seems to be a silver lining," he explains.
Canton resident Drew Kennedy is a perfect example. "With costs rising the way they are currently, it makes more sense and makes me feel better staying local and supporting the corner store," he says.
But people are cutting some corners—shopping for necessities more than accessories. "There has been a shift away from handbags, jewelry, and shoes," says Lesley Jennings, co-owner of Doubledutch boutique.
Another thing keeping stores afloat? Customer loyalty. "Guys call me when traveling in New York or London to find out if I have a certain item or designer," says Ken Himmelstein of Samuel Parker Clothier. "And they wait until they return to buy it from me." Himmelstein is optimistic that things will continue to improve. "I think the mood will lift immediately after the election," he predicts. "Just in time for a brisk holiday season."