Small businesses have adapted to survive COVID-19 pandemic

A comic book store, a women's fashion boutique, and a high-end toy and kids' clothes store – all survivors of the COVID-19 pandemic’s shutdowns.

A year since the pandemic started, small businesses have had to adapt to survive.

Yaya + Lou is a children’s toy and clothing store in Orlando's College Park neighborhood. Owner Chelsea Santos said that when COVID shut them down, they made it as easy as possible to get their goods to the buyers.

"We were going pick-ups, drop-offs, I was offering free shipping, even if it was two miles away if I needed to ship it or drop it off; however, they felt comfortable, I made sure I got it done, that way they would continue to support my business," she said.

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Traci Rodriguez owns Sultre, a women's clothing store in Winter Park. She said she renovated her store while they were closed, and started a website to sell online and through social media.

"We never had a website. We just dropped down, got a website, started connecting things, made our Instagram shoppable, then we were delivering it, and it just, we definitely had to change everything, the whole structure of it," she said.

The Collective: A Comic & Game Community store said online auctions helped them.

"We have a Wednesday auction at 5:30. Everything goes on at a dollar, and people can come in on Facebook and bid-up by a dollar," said owner Brendan Boyle.

In all, they each said the things that kept them afloat were robust online sales, a strong social media presence, and fast, low-cost shipping.

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University of Central Florida business professor Larry Barton said small businesses relied on loyal customers to get them through the pandemic, and it was important to get out that message.

"I think small businesses have an opportunity to promote the fact they're locally-owned and we need them and they need us," he said, "so there's a little of sharing your vulnerability and your excitement about coming back strong."

Tune in to FOX 35 Orlando for the latest Central Florida news.