‘Keep them alive’: SF small businesses face holiday season economic challenges

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) — The holiday shopping season is in full swing, and small businesses in the Bay Area are looking for more of your shopping dollars. But in San Francisco, two events this weekend highlighted the challenges some areas are facing, from crime to economic disparity and tourism.

A holiday “Winter Wonderland” on Chinatown’s Grant Avenue Sunday. San Francisco’s Asian Firefighters Association was distributing toys to kids in need. This year organizers say about 2,000 families showed up.

“One of the issues that we see here, there’s a lot of economic and social disparities that we need to address. But this is just something we can do as an immediate solution to sprinkle a little bit of magic during the holidays,” said Linda Phung from Imaginasian Productions.

Phung is giving back to the Chinatown neighborhood where she grew up and where small businesses could use a hand.

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“Chinatown has suffered, we have seen a downturn in tourism for sure,” said Tane Chan.

Tane Chan owns the Wok Shop, which features lots of culinary gifts. Chan is hopeful tourist and visitor traffic will bounce back to pre-pandemic levels.

“I think it’s picking up and it should be. It’s the holidays and everybody is going to be in a festive mood,” Chan said.

In the Castro, a holiday block party was on Noe Street. Castro Merchants created a festive place for families while sharing the love with small businesses.

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“Unfortunately, a bunch of small businesses didn’t make it during the pandemic. I think it’s important to do anything we can to keep them alive,” said Lauro Gonzales from Artyhood Events.

Many empty storefronts can be seen on Market Street.

A “passport” encouraged folks to visit neighborhood shops for a stamp and prizes.

“We think it’s good for our communty,” said Natalia Quaresma.

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Quaresma at SuiGeneris Designer Consignment wants more police patrols during the holidays, after incidents with unhoused people outside her store.

“We would love more security in our neighborhood for everyone to keep holiday shopping safe,” Quaresma said.

Small businesses are hoping shoppers think local this season and that the bad news Grinch stays away.

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