SAN JOSE, California – It’s the start of the holiday shopping season and the city of San Jose is trying to give small businesses a boost during the pandemic. The city has launched a campaign called Shop Local SJ.
Betty Ortega and her husband are from Guadalajara, Mexico and opened Artesanias on Story and King Roads in East San Jose in 2016 after a decade at the Berryessa flea market.
Homemade arts, crafts and jewelry fill the 1,000 square foot space. Embroidery is their specialty. Authentic pieces that you won’t find anywhere else.
“It has different statues, architectures from different parts of Mexico, so that’s what I like,” said Gabby Guillen from San Jose.
Like so many small businesses, they were hit hard by the pandemic and closed for three months in 2020.
“We feel bad because we are working a lot,” said Artesanias owner Betty Ortega.
San José Mayor Sam Liccardo has put the company in the spotlight on social media as part of the “Shop Local SJ” campaign.
“We have 10 fairly large shopping districts in the city,” said Blage Zelalich of the City of San Jose’s economic development office. “A lot of these companies haven’t gotten out of the woods.”
The initiative was launched last year to help businesses when capacity limits and restrictions were in place. Now it’s about keeping the stores open.
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“It really improves the streetscape and the vibrancy of the different shopping districts that we have in the city,” Zelalich said. “It also allows us to keep our diversity.
Small businesses are featured on the “Silicon Valley Strong” website. The city has also partnered with “Get Virtual”, a non-profit organization that helps businesses get online.
The owners of Artesanias said business was coming back with the help of the grants. They don’t spend money on marketing, just word of mouth and social media. They hope to stay in San José for a long time.
Azenith Smith is a reporter for KTVU. Email Azenith at [email protected] and follow her on twitter and instagram @azenithktvu or Facebook or ktvu.com.