Year after COVID crisis hits, some small businesses see '400 percent growth'

PITTSBORO, N.C. (WTVD) -- The pandemic has handed a blow to many businesses along Main Street, but there are some spots seeing sales skyrocket. Business, for them, is soaring faster and further than they ever could have imagined.

Lysandra Weber started 2020 working in a cramped spare room inside her family home. She now has a brand-new studio in downtown Pittsboro and just hired her first employee to help with the overwhelming crush of orders.

"My sales went up about 400 percent," Weber said. "To have 400 percent growth in one year during a global pandemic is insane and phenomenal."

Weber owns Geek Chic Clothing, which offers handmade, funky and colorful clothes as well as masks.

Actress Milla Jovovich of the upcoming movie "Monster Hunters" is among the customers offering support.

Weber attributed the spike to people being conscientious of where they are spending money.

"People have become more aware of Black-owned businesses and wanting to support Black-owned businesses," she said.

Small-business owner Courtney Bowman is also seeing sales accelerate. She owns Raleigh Cheesy and says people have been picking up treats non-stop.

Whether getting a large, elaborate smorgasbord or a small sampler, people are looking for something special to enjoy at home.

For Bowman, a Wake County teacher, it was originally a side business and a way for her to bring in extra money.

Her business has become so strong that she was able to leave her full-time job early in the pandemic and last month opened a storefront in Apex.

"I think COVID actually is a big reason why we've had the growth we've had because the community has been so outpouring to local businesses and local restaurants," Bowman said.

Both small business owners recognize their good fortune.

Bowman and Weber are keeping up with orders while knowing others are barely keeping their heads above water.

Weber wants to uplift the small-business community. With every email she sends out, there's encouragement to support local businesses.

"I think the biggest hindrance for a lot of small businesses is people just don't know," she said. "They don't know that they exist. They don't know where they are, or how to get in touch with them. Helping to spread the word about that is how I'm trying to help other businesses when I can."
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