FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- While businesses along Hay Street are still feeling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, they're reporting 2021 has been a more promising summer than last year.
"I started seeing more people visiting Fayetteville, and that was one probably big difference from last year. We did not have a lot of out of town, as many out of town visitors last year as we've had this year. Because people are traveling more," said Diane Parfitt, who owns City Center Gallery & Books with her husband.
The pandemic forced Parfitt to diversify her offerings and way she connected with customers; while there's been a more steady return to in-store traffic, she's worried about worsening COVID-19 metrics.
"We're trying to do all the things to meet our customer's needs, given the things that are going on. We continue to sell books online. We will still do drive-ups, if people are not comfortable driving up, we will meet them where they are," said Parfitt, who adds they follow CDC safety guidelines in-store.
While City Center Gallery & Books has been in business since 2003, across the street Reverie Goods and Gifts is a new addition to Hay Street. Owner Meghan Reed was inspired to open the store during the pandemic, setting up shop in April.
"We definitely felt like we were a little bit crazy to be opening up a business during the pandemic. And we honestly weren't even sure what to expect as far as the in-store shopping," said Reed.
Over the first four months, they've been encouraged with in-store traffic.
"As the COVID lockdowns went away, we've definitely noticed a big effort from people to support small, shop local. They've realized what having the local businesses means to them with all that we lost during the pandemic," Reed said.
Outside the value of being downtown, Reed noted the marketing importance of having a storefront in a highly visible area, especially for people who may be more comfortable shopping online.
The warmer weather and return to work in offices has helped restaurants like The Downtown Deli, which has outdoor seating.
"This summer the business got a little bit up better than last summer. COVID-19, everything shut down. This summer, the people came back. The summer came back. All those people got vaccinated - that's the difference," said manager Youcaf Hamouda.
Downtown Fayetteville businesses seeing increased traffic this summer
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