Three downtown Moscow business owners said they don’t know how much customer traffic to expect now through the holiday season, but they hope it’s like years past where holiday shopping provides a nice sales boost.

“I have no idea,” said Pam Hays, owner of Hodgins Drug and Hobby. “All I know is you prepare for the best and you brace for the worst.”

Hays said she will be thankful for whatever business she gets today - Small Business Saturday - through the holidays. SBS is the Saturday after Thanksgiving in which customers are encouraged to support small businesses.

Hays said 2020 has been a “very interesting” but “good” year for her business. Because of the business’s pharmacy, it was deemed essential and stayed open throughout the year.

As the COVID-19 pandemic set in, she said people started getting bored and purchased puzzles from her store. As schools shut down in-person instruction, Hays started selling more educational toys and items from her science section.

“We’ve been very blessed in that we’ve had quite a bit of business unlike some folks that really haven’t had a lot of choices,” Hays said.

Because of COVID-19, Carol Price, owner of BookPeople of Moscow, said foot traffic at her bookstore has been down this year but online orders have been up. She said she expects the online facet of her business to continue to be high. Price said overall sales are down from 2019, though.

“We haven’t been able to make up for all of the COVID problems,” she said. “But it’s a lot better than it could have been, so the customer support has been very strong.”

Price said she tentatively believes traffic will increase over the next few weeks at her store as people buy holiday gifts for their loved ones.

Heather Pettit, co-owner of Hyperspud Sports, said Thanksgiving to Christmas has been a busy time for the outdoor gear store in the past and she expects it to be fairly busy this year. But she said it is difficult to predict because this is her first year operating the store.

Pettit and her husband, Bryan, purchased and reopened the store in June.

“We hope to do well in December ‘cause January I think is a slow month in retail for everyone I would suspect,” Heather Pettit said.

She said Hyperspud Sports was a little slower than normal in October but it has been pretty busy this month. Overall, sales are almost the same as last year, in part because the pandemic pushed more people to the outdoors.

“More people, given COVID, are recreating than ever before,” Heather Pettit said.

“A lot of people are getting into the outdoors for the first time and so they don’t have the gear or knowledge, and so they come in and we help them out with that,” she added.

The three business owners said they do not expect to close if they experience little business activity during the next month.

Garrett Cabeza can be reached at (208) 883-4631, or by email to gcabeza@dnews.com.

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