Small businesses are everywhere you look. Just meander down Steele Street in downtown Sanford and you’ll find women’s boutiques, restaurants and gift shops. But don’t forget too, that small businesses exist all around Lee County. Let’s think about Tramway for example. Floral Designs by Eddie, Tramway Diner, Davison’s Steaks, the Shed Depot and The Carpenter Shop reside in that area. And what about our home-based businesses? KatieDid Florals, for example; her Christmas wreaths are amazing, by the way! These are all places where we can spend our holiday dollars.

Small business includes grabbing lunch at a Tacos El Primo food truck, getting your cracked screen replaced at the Cell Phone Repair Store, getting new tires at Black’s Tire and Auto on Wicker Street, or getting a sweet treat from the Chocolate Cellar.

“This year we are all shopping differently and are more focused on value, but shopping local doesn’t have to break the bank” states Rosalinda Cruz, better known as Rosa. Rosa is the owner of The Asor Collective, based in Sanford. According to her website, and personal conversations I’ve had with Rosa, The Asor Collective “guides retailers, entrepreneurs and direct-to-consumer manufacturers in strengthening their brand, products and services while developing strategies and creating operational efficiencies to grow their businesses.” She works with boutiques, pop-ups, downtown districts and manufacturers.

Cruz comes to us from up north, were she spent almost 20 years in the apparel and retail sectors.

“I’m not sure when I exactly fell in love with retail but at some point, I did. I love the scrappy and tenacious nature of retail and being in the trenches … I love its ability to bring people together. But more importantly I love the transformation that takes place and the escape it provides. People shop for all sorts of reasons... to escape a stressful day, body image or self-esteem issues. They shop to socialize and bond with friends or family. A good shopping experience creates an emotional connection to consumers.”

Cruz goes on to say that “while many small businesses can’t always compete with the prices of big brands and box stores, they blow their competition out of the water when it comes to service and product knowledge. Small businesses sure do bring on the fun in their delivery of service.”

For example, Added Accents and others are holding private shopping opportunities during off-hours. Recently, All Digital, a local print shop, made a special trip with their products to meet my off-hour needs. I certainly would not have gotten that service with a big box store.

Imagine Sanford, Lee County and Broadway without any of our small, local businesses. The street would look depressing, empty, boring and abandoned. But instead, our small business community is bearing down in the face of COVID-19 and decorating their storefronts, cooking up holiday specialties and continuing to provide stellar customer service.

Thank you to each and every small business owner for making our community feel a little cozier this time of year!