Iowa’s COVID-induced support for shopping local shows staying power

Kelsey Mihalovich, owner of Hinge on 5th, poses for a photo inside her shop, on Friday, Nov. 19, 2021, in the Valley Junction neighborhood in West Des Moines.

While Des Moines metro shop owners hope to greet throngs of customers on Small Business Saturday this weekend, some say they’re even happier to see consumers embracing shopping local year-round.

Many central Iowa consumers began prioritizing local shopping to help neighborhood businesses survive the pandemic, but the habit has stuck, small business owners said.

“It hit most people that these stores aren’t going to be able to survive unless we can find some way to show them some support,” said Kelsey Mihalovich, owner of Hinge on 5th, a women’s boutique in Valley Junction that sells apparel and home décor.

Iowans’ increased focus on shopping local this holiday season was borne out by results of a new Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll conducted Nov. 7-10. In this second holiday season since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, 55% of Iowans say they’re patronizing local stores more for their shopping than in past holiday seasons.