'Been a real mixed bag:' Downtown Fayetteville businesses find success in online sales 6 months since start of COVID-19 pandemic

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- The Historic Downtown Fayetteville area is slowly recovering from the last six months of the pandemic with many business owners still working on finding a model that works best during this new day and age.

Since the major shutdowns back in March, Jerry McDonald, co-owner of Yellow Crayons, told ABC11 they've heavily relied on their online sales, seeing great numbers since May.

"First couple of months: face mask, face mask, face mask. Now, it's a face mask and everything else," McDonald said. The print shop has sold custom masks to government departments locally and across the region.

On top of the state-mandated shutdowns in March, the Fayetteville Woodpeckers baseball season was cancelled and major events like the famous Dogwood Festival were postponed, leaving Hay Street with very inconsistent foot traffic, according to McDonald.

FULL CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE

Christine Michaels, the President and CEO of the Greater Fayetteville Chamber, said it's been a rollercoaster of a ride for locals trying to call downtown home for their business ventures.

"Initially, it was a horrible struggle, because I don't think we anticipated the closures or that they would last as long as they did," Michaels said.

The unpredictable nature of the current pandemic and strict COVID-19 guidelines have forced some downtown businesses to shut down or choose to remain closed until it passes.

"It's been a real mixed bag, and I think that's what makes it so hard to predict," Michaels said.

Michaels told Eyewitness News places like Yellow Crayons have turned to online sales to keep them afloat. A strategy that Pressed: A Creative Space, another retail store along Hay Street, has also utilized.

"Even though retail traffic on the days that it is slow...our website is still cranking," McDonald said.

Lavern Oxendine is a member of the Great Fayetteville Chamber and a resident at the Prince Charles Apartments in the downtown area. The longtime local has seen the impact to the downtown area, adding that business and foot traffic is beginning to look up.

"Some have persevered and some have, actually, their sales have increased, because they've gone to internet, online sales," Oxendine said.

The Greater Fayetteville Chamber hopes to see the downtown area back to normal soon, planning to continue to help business owners apply for loans and get any help they may need.
Copyright © 2020 WTVD-TV. All Rights Reserved.