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Small businesses adapt to COVID interruptions during last week of holiday shopping

For some local business owners, the coronavirus pandemic has meant a shift in strategy for...
For some local business owners, the coronavirus pandemic has meant a shift in strategy for making sales during the holidays.(Marco Verch (Custom credit) | Flickr)
Updated: Dec. 22, 2020 at 6:57 PM CST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The countdown to Christmas has some small businesses banking on the holiday shopping season more than ever before, but for many, the coronavirus pandemic has meant a shift in strategy.

Those at Idlewild Butterfly Farm told WAVE 3 News Tuesday that ability to adapt to the whims of COVID-19 has kept business buzzing.

(Story continues below photo)

Items for sale on the Idlewild Butterfly Farm website.
Items for sale on the Idlewild Butterfly Farm website.(idlewildbutterflyfarm.com)

“We actually had reopened for the 2020 season three days prior to shutting back down,” Blair Leano-Helvey, the owner, said. “It was kind of like a deer in the headlights moment because we do tours, we do school visits. We already had a calendar that was pretty full.”

Leano-Helvey said she knew the business would have to transform to survive.

“We’ve just been able to stay afloat pedaling bugs, basically,” she said.

Most of those are pinned, and available on the business’ website. Leano-Helvey said plants, butterfly kits and seeds have also been popular recently.

She continued that, during the pandemic, the company’s website has been extremely important.

Mother’s Day is usually the busiest time of year for Idlewild, but Leano-Helvey said she had record Black Friday sales this year. She is now depending on the holiday season to make up for the rest of 2020.

In southern Indiana, sculptor Elizabeth Mattingly, who owns Wicked Winglings, said summers full of festivals and conventions are usually when her handcrafted dragons are most in demand.

“They’re just wickedly cute, as I call them, because each has their own personalities,” Mattingly said.

Without events in the area due to COVID, the holidays have become more important to her too.

The latest challenge facing many business owners is shipping delays, which Mattingly and Leano-Helvey have both had to deal with this year.

Idlewild switched from USPS to UPS and is offering curbside pickup this week and local deliveries.

Handcrafted items for sale from Wicked Winglings
Handcrafted items for sale from Wicked Winglings(Wicked Winglings Facebook Page)

At Wicked Winglings, a certificate is being emailed out to those who may be nervous about shipping delays. It will inform recipients a present is making its way to them.

“I wanted them to be able to give something to their loved ones,” Mattingly said, “so they know they thought of them and something cool is on the way.”

According to Fedex, record high volumes of e-commerce orders, COVID-19 closures and weather events may cause delivery delays this week.

A spokesperson for UPS said volume is heavy because it’s peak week, but its network is operating normally right now. They noted that those still hoping to ship will need to act quickly.

A U.S. Postal Service spokesperson released the following statement regarding shipments:

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