• The Star Staff

Small businesses push to thrive safely on Black Friday amid pandemic

Local entrepreneurs call on citizens to ‘shop locally’ to invest in future economy

By Pedro Correa Henry

Twitter: @PCorreaHenry

Special to The Star

With the island facing the COVID-19 pandemic and a sharp rise in positive cases, small businesses in Puerto Rico are looking to thrive safely on Black Friday weekend.

Entrepreneurs are also calling for shoppers to support more local businesses during the islandwide public health emergency.

Closet Sustentable owner Francheska Nazario García said her shop in Bayamón’s Urbanización Santa Rosa will be offering “on Friday and Saturday up to 50% discount on both new and secondhand merchandise” so people can get their holiday outfits or make a wardrobe change at an accessible price and break the fast fashion cycle.

“With your purchase, you’re helping the environment and fighting against the impact of producing waste. Even if it’s a small purchase, supporting this niche means supporting the planet,” Nazario García said. “With Closet Sustentable, I’m giving an opportunity to people to bring garments and give them credit so clients feel like they’re getting something good in return; what I’m letting my clients do is to get into a reuse process.”

Meanwhile, the entrepreneur said supporting local thrift and consignment stores not only saves money by helping fashion-forward people find “a garment for every season that starts from just two dollars,” but it can also lead to a healthier lifestyle.

She expressed hope that “things will be different than last year” during this Black Friday weekend sale, as she expects “Puerto Ricans to shop more locally and not go straight to a mall.”

“My clientele is telling me that they’re going out less, they’re scared of going out, and I’m feeling an impact already,” said Nazario García, who earlier this year faced the challenge of moving her consignment store into a larger venue on March 15, the day the COVID-19 lockdown in Puerto Rico took effect.

Therefore, she told the Star, she opened her online store, www.closersustentablepr.com, while her Instagram account, @closetsustentablepr is also open for business.

In order for clients to stay safe, Nazario García said “delivery and curbside pick-up options are available.”

In October, she also began her Pop-Up Closet Collab project to “provide thriving entrepreneurs an accessible rental space to initiate their businesses.”

Projects such as Picaflor (@pica_flor_ on Instagram), which designs and sells handmade accessories made with paper beads, and The Jewelry Bar (@TheJewelryBar on Instagram), which sells materials for costume jewelry design, are some of the emerging businesses that share space with Nazario García’s three-year old project.

Meanwhile, Camille Serrano, owner of Solid Hair Care, which is focused on producing minimal-waste haircare products, told the Star that her enterprise will have an online bundle sale where “clients will get the chance to purchase our products with a 50% discount.”

“I will have five solid shampoos for $25, four solid conditioners for $26 and bottled products will be three for $24,” Serrano said. “Technically, every purchase will be half price.”

As for her business, which she started on Instagram (@solidhaircare) after her mother advised her to sell the products she made for herself after losing her entertainment gigs due to the coronavirus pandemic, Serrano said “the ship has been sailing.”

In fact, she said that due to a surprising number of orders, she had to open an online boutique, www.solidhaircare.org, “to keep proper track of every order.”

“We’ve been getting great feedback. Thankfully, we’ve received plenty of support; now my sister and three friends of mine are working with me,” Serrano said. “People have received our project with love and patience. I’m noticing that Puerto Ricans are becoming more conscious, are up for changes and for accepting proposals that are different.”

As for shopping at small local enterprises, Serrano said that especially by supporting them this year, “you’re moving the island’s economy and providing jobs for our citizens.”

“By supporting local businesses, you’re providing a chance for a Puerto Rican to reach their dreams,” she said. “If God allows me, if I accomplish making more income with my enterprise, I want to invest in the local arts scene; I want to see people grow and not feel limited in becoming dancers or actors. I want to break the barrier where you feel the need to study, study, study, and because you don’t belong in an elite group, you feel like you can’t become successful.”

Meanwhile, the Star gathered more Black Friday offers that other small businesses will have available.

For goth and alternative makeup enthusiasts, local makeup brand Necromancy Cosmetica (@necromancycosmetica) said via a written statement that “all lip products will have a 25% discount from Friday to Monday.”

For the more colorful makeup lovers, local makeup brand BYMELOLOPS (@bymelolops) said it “will be offering many things that will be posted later on our [Instagram] page.” At press time, the brand had released a 10 percent discount on their pre-order of the Cutcreaser Comic Book kit, which includes eight mini ink eyeliners and a liner brush set.

For vintage fashion lovers, thrift store Electroshock (@electroshockpr), located on Loíza Street in Santurce, told the Star that “all garments will have a 15% discount. It will not apply to local artist designs or store credit purchases.”

Likewise, Vintage Rack Thrift Shop, located at Jesús T. Piñero Ave. in San Juan, announced on its Instagram account (@vintagerackthethriftshop) that “all regular-priced vintage and modern garments will be 50% off.”

For artisanal soap lovers, local enterprise Barras (www.shopbarras.com) will offer discounts of up to 50 percent on select products in their Black Friday sale via “VIP Access,” which netizens can log onto for free at www.ofertasbarras.com to get their offers.

For vinyl record and art collectors, art and record store Ojo de Tigre (www.ojodetigrepr.com), located on Hipódromo Street in San Juan, will be “releasing new records, quirks and artwork” during Black Friday weekend.

For local design enthusiasts, Chroma: Local Design Shop (www.chromalocal.com) at the Mall of San Juan will be ready for their “Blue Friday,” where buyers can “get 20% off on selected brands.”

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