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Small businesses rebound with return of in-person summer events

With so many things cancelled in 2020, small businesses that rely on selling products at big events and festivals made up for lost time this summer.

TOLEDO, Ohio — For small businesses and vendors, the summer is more than just a return to warm weather. It means big events and festivals to sell their products.

After missing out on so many events in 2020, they made up for lost time this year.

Lauren Dupler, owner of Laurelea's Sweets, finally started seeing her cookie business pick up at the beginning of this year.

"Once things started opening back up, I was booked consistently 8-12 weeks out," said Dupler.

Dupler is making more cookies for her home baking business than ever before. And it's in large part thanks to the return of festival and big events like the Toledo night market

"I took 396 decorated cookies and an additional 150 drop cookies," said Dupler, "and came home with six of my drop cookies. That's all. My table was all clear."

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In-person events are key for people discovering her business, because her product is food.

"The biggest part of my business is taste," said Dupler. "I mean I can make a pretty cookie, but it doesn't matter if it doesn't taste good."

And people definitely like the taste of her cookies. She says she's making around 40 dozen custom cookies a week. Events this summer have brought back business ten-fold. 

It's also been a good summer for businesses that deal only online. 

"I think I'm getting to be about where I was before the pandemic as far as how busy I am," said Jessica Martin, owner of Crowned Cakes by Jess.

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Martin has been booked out a month in advance for cake orders since the beginning of the summer. She says the pandemic really pushed people to social media to find their wants and needs and that really has benefited her.

"Social media is definitely my number one go-to to get one stuff out there because the photos of my work kind of speak for themselves," said Martin.

Whether it be online or in-person, both women say the summer was a success. But even as things return to normal, it's always best to support local.

"Keep going out there and supporting small business," said Dupler. "It really means a lot to us little guys."

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