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Norfolk shop says business is good after opening up during the pandemic

A sustainability store called “Less Than” took a risk and opened up at the peak of the pandemic’s first wave.

NORFOLK, Va. — Chris Simmonds started his own sustainability shop in early 2020 online. Just a couple months into the pandemic, he decided to open up his own brick-and-mortar store.

Less Than holds reusable products like towels and cleaning items as well as organic products like soap, lotions, and toothpaste. Simmonds says it’s always been a passion of his growing up.

He says he knew opening up in the spring of 2020 was a risk, but he didn’t want it to stop him from moving the business forward.

“Once 2020 started and we realized that was going to be a challenge with the limitation on large gatherings, I realized I had to pivot,” said Simmonds. “I had to do things like curbside pickup and delivery.”

In a time when people are less likely to re-use products and want to keep everything disposable, this sustainability shop is thriving. Simmonds says his store in Norfolk is seeing more business than his online service is seeing.

According to Norfolk’s Retail Alliance bi-annual report, about 23 percent of businesses still report a 50 to 75 percent drop in revenue since the pandemic began.

"We're considered essentials so a lot of what we sell are things that people are going to use,” said Simmonds. “The bigger obstacle for me was just raising awareness that our store was going to be opening."

Simmonds credits the success of his small business to the community going out of its way to support him. He says it’s sad to watch other businesses in Norfolk struggle during the pandemic.

“It hurts me to see other entrepreneurs struggle,” said Simmonds. “That’s why shopping local is so important.”

The business owner doesn’t just have his Norfolk location. He recently opened up a shop in Virginia Beach just a few months ago.

Less Than is located at 803 Shirley Ave.


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