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Holiday guide: Staying safe while shopping local this holiday season

We do all kinds of things to make it easier for people to shop, whether or not they come into the store. We offer quick pick-up, either curbside or we also do complimentary home delivery. You can do contactless shopping with us all the time.
— Jenny Lyons, Vermont Book Shop marketing manager

VERGENNES/MIDDLEBURY — With the number of COVID-19 cases forecast to rise throughout the holiday season, Vermonters may be wary of doing their holiday shopping in-person. Local retailers are creating alternative shopping methods and working to ensure customers’ safety in stores. 
Many local businesses have worked to create remote shopping methods for their customers. Employees at Linda’s Clothing & Gifts on Main Street in Vergennes now connect with shoppers through text and email in order to show their merchandise to customers remotely. 
Sales associate and merchandiser Cheryl Shea said owner Linda Cook has been hosting Facebook livestreams as another way to virtually share merchandise with customers. 
“We don’t have a way to order online but what Linda has done, and what she may be doing through the holidays, is a Facebook live,” Shea said. “She shows some of the lines, and people can join in on Facebook and shop that way.”
For customers that plan to shop in-store, Linda’s employees are deeply cleaning the store and following necessary protocols to ensure their shoppers are safe. 
In addition to creating a safe environment, Linda’s plans to decorate the storefront windows for the holidays. Shea said she hopes community members come out to see these windows and get into the holiday spirit. 
“We do want people to come and see our beautiful Christmas windows,” Shea said. “We put a lot into our windows and so if people want to come and walk through town, we hope they’ll look in our windows and get in the Christmas spirit.”
Some local businesses are offering full-online shopping for customers that want to avoid going into stores this holiday season. 
WowToyz in Vergennes, which produces a educational toys and models, already sells its products through its website. But the company also offers curbside pickup at its Panton Road location. 
Middlebury Mountaineer, the Main Street Middlebury retailer, offers online shopping for its customers at its Green Mountain Adventures website.
The Vermont Book Shop in Middlebury has provided the online-ordering option to customers throughout the pandemic, and marketing manager Jenny Lyons said the retailer also offers the store’s curbside pick-up and complimentary home delivery. 
“We do all kinds of things to make it easier for people to shop, whether or not they come into the store,” said Lyons, “We offer quick pick-up, either curbside or we also do complimentary home delivery. You can do contactless shopping with us all the time.” 
Other county businesses, like the Bristol businesses Recycled Reading of Vermont and Yarn & Yoga, also offer curbside-pickup.
Like most other retailers, the Vermont Book Shop also works to provide customers with a safe in-person shopping experience. Lyons said she and other employees are taking all the necessary precautions to keep shoppers safe this season. 
“We are observing all of the governor’s orders and recommended procedures and protocols,” said Lyons. “We have a hand sanitizing station at the front, and everyone needs to be wearing a mask.” 
After experiencing business decline due to the pandemic, Lyons said The Vermont Book Shop is hoping to have a good holiday season and has already received immense support from community members. 
“We’re hoping to have a great holiday season,” she said “The community has already been so supportive and we’re so thankful for that. That’s one of the reasons we hope we’ll have a good season this year as well.” 

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