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Orange Christmas: Small businesses in Stillwater adjust to holiday season amid COVID

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For Pete's Sake on Saturday, April 4, 2020 in Stillwater.

Sharon Sample is a people person.

Sample, manager of For Pete’s Sake, an Oklahoma State apparel store, has missed her customers. In a year filled with uncertainty and the coronavirus, the holiday shopping season has been anything but normal. 

As an OSU gear shop, Sample said the majority of her business is from gamedays. With the limited capacity at OSU sporting events, sales are not easy. 

“In a normal year, we are done with most of our Christmas sales by the end of the season,” Sample said. There is nobody in town now. It’s even tougher with basketball because the games are at later times  and the crowd limits are smaller.”

As Christmas nears, Sample said December business has been kind but “November was horrible.”

 In a time of the year where gratitude is key and joy is widespread, support from her customers has been beneficial. 

“I have thanked every single customer that has been in,” she said. “I’ve been careful because I’m old, but it’s been really hard not to hug. I’ve cried several times because I am just so grateful. I think we live in a pretty great place.”

The holiday spirit isn’t enclosed with the doors of For Pete’s Sake.

“Personally, I’m only doing my holiday shopping here in Stillwater,” Sample said. “I know personally three doctors that are just shopping local.”

In fact, according to a Visa study, 60% of Americans will do the majority of their holiday shopping locally this year. 

Sample also knows that this is a community effort and she has been helping out fellow small businesses for years. 

“If I know another store has an item that we don’t, I will send them there.”

For Pete’s Sake is also offering a discount drawing. 

“We have a drawing ongoing, customers have a chance to get anywhere from 20 to 50% off their purchase. In addition to the drawing, Sample is continuing a years-long tradition.

“If the customers see something they like, they can get a discount even if it’s not on sale,” Sample said.  “It’s just a thank you to our customers. This year, saying thank you and make a huge difference.” 

While Sample’s store relies on OSU athletics, The Barn Wine, Beer and Spirits store is not normally busy  around this time of year. 

“Our customer base is comprised mostly of students, professors and university support staff so we aren’t super busy during this time of year with winter break,” The Barn manager Travis Smith said. 

“We do sell a lot of gift sets and gift cards though,” Smith said.