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Small Business Owners Say Shopping Locally Is More Important Than Ever Amid COVID, Supply Chain Struggles

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Many business owners say Small Business Saturday is more important than ever this year.

In addition to the ongoing pandemic, mom-and-pop shops are facing supply chain issues and staffing shortages.

Eric Penn is the owner-operator of the Dr. Pennskin Shave Company, selling candles, soaps and mugs. He and a group of vendors banded together under one roof to keep rent low. They're called the Shops of SoHo.

"We were closed six months, and even when we opened in the fall of 2020, business was really at 50% ... Things started to happen once we got the vaccines," Penn said.

But now Penn says they're dealing with supply chain issues.

"We've had some issues as far as replenishment. They're backlogged," he said.

RELATED: Shop Local Saturday

In the next stall over, Tatiana Francis runs the clothing company Jolie & Jade. She says it will be a while yet before she gets back to 100%.

"Compared to my peak years, maybe 65?" she said.

In Ridgewood, Queens, the community got into the holiday shopping spirit along the 71st Avenue Plaza.

"I think it's way better to go small. The customability, the camaraderie, the people you get to know inside these stores. You get to really become family with small businesses," shopper Eric Rivera said.

New York City's small business services commissioner Jonnel Doris says mom-and-pop shops are what drive the economy.

"You're talking over 3 million people employed here in the city by small businesses," he said.

But a lot of small business owners say they're still facing staffing shortages and having to work overtime to keep their shops open.

"It's hard to find workers," said Theodore Renz, executive director of the Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District. "Perhaps there's some on unemployment and they're not ready to come back to work yet."

Tasty's Diner, which has been in the neighborhood for 50 years, says the latest challenge facing them is inflation.

"Prices are going up. It's going to end up having to push it to the customer," Louis Nunez, with Tasty's Diner, said.

Shop owners are hopeful there's still plenty of time for New Yorkers to show up, support and spend money this season.

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