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'City Wide' event supports St. Louis women-owned businesses

Navigating COVID-19 means mapping out a new way to shop local

ST. LOUIS — When simply stepping out of your house can feel like a big deal, shopping small goes even further.

“Us as people, we should really look out for community and local businesses, without us a lot of things don't move,” said Dara Cunningham, co-owner of Sheekmode, a pop-up boutique featuring women's clothing.

The Women's Creative is a collective of women-owned businesses that often hosts events with hundreds of shoppers, but they’re typically inside.

“We knew that probably wasn't going to happen this year,” said TWC’s Megan Rohall.

So instead the organization hosted on Sunday its first-ever City Wide Market Crawl, a partnership with 4 Hands Brewery to send people to mini pop-up shopping events around the St. Louis area.

“We just wanted to get creative and find a way to make it happen in the safest way while also supporting local businesses that don't have brick and mortar shops but also getting people to the ones that are open right now,” said Rohall.

“Even though we've had to follow COVID guidelines, I think it's still been a really good opportunity for small businesses like mine,” said Mikayla Maines, who sells handmade earrings through Golden Hour Designs.

This event served communities hit especially hard by 2020: small businesses, which already operate on thin margins, and women, who have been disproportionately pushed out of the workforce due to layoffs, more responsibilities at home, or both.

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“I think cooperating or working with other businesses that are owned by women just shows us how strong and how powerful women are,” said Colandra Smith, the other owner of Sheekmode.

Even spread city-wide and 6 feet apart, it's been about bringing business in as much as it is about bringing the women together.

“It's like a whole different ballgame being able to see your customers up front,” said Mains.

“Actually Mikayla's the one who inspired me to start my own e-commerce business,” said Heather Morfeld, whose shop Topbun sells scrunchie-mask combos.

The goal is to build on this momentum and do even more of these events moving forward, especially as we get closer to the all-important holiday shopping season.

“If there's ways that we can continue to support these ladies and our local businesses, we're going to try to make it happen,” said Rohall.

The Women's Creative is also hosting mini-markets at 9 Mile Garden in Affton for the first three Sundays in November.

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