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Why retailers are counting on window shoppers this Mother's Day

(WCAX)
Published: May. 6, 2020 at 6:16 PM EDT
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If you're still in the market for a Mother's Day present, Vermont retailers ask you to consider buying local. As our Elissa Borden shows you, shops on Burlington's Church Street Marketplace are beefing up their window displays to appeal to shoppers.

Church Street is a bit quieter than normal, with many stores forced to shut their doors for the time being.

"Many Vermont businesses have had to pivot in different directions," said Lynn Ellen Schimoler of the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets. "They've had to consider laying off employees, they've had to consider different ways that they're pivoting in this temporary normal. Local economy around us supports all of us."

With Mother's Day right around the corner, these stores are missing out on a lot of foot traffic.

Data shows the average shopper is willing to spend an average of $205 on mom. That's a chunk of change many shops aren't seeing right now, like Mark Bouchette of Homeport on Church Street. Sales at his department store have dropped 80% since he had to close his doors.

He applied for and received the PPP, which he's using to pay his employees who have decided to keep working to fill online orders.

"You know, we're using that to make sure our employees can stay employed and be with us as soon as we're ready to open our doors, which we hope won't be too far down the road," Bouchette said.

But it's not paying the bills.

Bouchette is hoping that will change, Thursday through Saturday. Shoppers are encouraged to window shop for Mother's Day on Church Street. Participating retailers are fixing up their window displays to show off some products mom might like.

"Sort of a safe way for people to get out of their homes and find cool stuff for moms, which we know is difficult in these times. And just sort of a fun event for folks to do," Bouchette said.

Although it's a great reason to get out of the house to shop for mom, it's also a great reason to support local businesses.

"Amazon can't do this, you know? And you can't go walk by Amazon. You can come walk by Church Street and it's, as bizarre as it may be, it's still a beautiful walk," Bouchette said.

After window shoppers have checked out what these stores have to offer, they can order online or call the store. Directions for ordering the perfect Mother's Day gift do vary a bit store to store, but each participating retailer will have a print out outlining what to do.

It begins Thursday and runs through Saturday.

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