Small businesses are having to be innovative about how to they reach customers during the latest COVID-19 spike.By Chris Hoffman

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Today is Small Business Saturday. It’s one of the busiest days for mom-and-pop shops, and this year it comes during the stay-at-home advisory.

Many are hoping this is the light at the end of a dark tunnel.

“This year means more than any other year. Means more to us and I think all other small businesses,” Alex Clemence with Steel City Brand said over Zoom.

For months, many of these local stores have seen sales decline due to the pandemic.

“Fourth quarter,” Shayla Hawkins said. “We have to kind of manage and do the best we can with everything being shut down. This is kind of their last opportunity.”

Hawkins is one of the organizers of The Black Market, which is part of the holiday market. About 70 Black-owned businesses are part of the holiday market this year.

“These small businesses are more than just a mom-and-pop store. They’re art, they’re creativity,” Tricia Brancolini-Foley with the Handmade Arcade said.

Normally on this weekend, the Handmade Arcade has hundreds of small vendors in the convention center with thousands of customers. This year, it’s a virtual event through next weekend with about 130 vendors.

“If you are committed to shopping local, if you’re committed to shopping small, if you’re committed to Pittsburgh, this is your chance to invest your $50 for a gift directly to a local maker or a small business,” Brancolini-Foley said.

Businesses are hoping to see support through the holiday season.

Data from Stanford University found Black-owned business have been forced to close at more than two times the rate of white businesses during the pandemic.

“These vendors are absolutely amazing. Often times, Black business owners lack support,” Hawkins said.

Some businesses are finding creative ways to bring people over. On Friday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Steel City Brand is using a trolley to take people from Market Square to the shops on Smithfield Street.

“They offer a really fun experience there and we wanted to have that travel over to us as well,” Clemence said.

In speaking with these businesses, if you shop in person, they are requiring mask-wearing, and many are trying to space items out while and sanitizing.