Editors' Pick

Best Ways Local Stores Battled Online Shopping

When COVID-19 forced most retailers to close their doors last spring, it was time for local store owners to get creative. Staying in business meant figuring out ways to keep customers engaged—and to stop them from buying everything on Amazon. Stores such as Scout & Molly’s in North Bethesda and The Cottage Monet in Rockville began posting new merchandise on social media, sometimes even taking orders via Facebook and Instagram. Others, including Gym & Tonic in Potomac and OAK in Kensington, employed their cellphones for one-on-one FaceTime shopping appointments. Curbside pickup became de rigueur, and gift shops like The Blue House, Red Orchard and Occasions even sweetened the deal with free home delivery. Whatever it took to keep customers happy, local store owners found a way to do it. For a while, at least. After all, it’s tough to turn a profit driving 25 miles to deliver a $25 present. But curbside pickup, virtual sales and private shopping appointments? Many local shop owners are still offering them.