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Shop local holiday deals without leaving your couch

The turn to online shopping during the pandemic can help our local East Tennessee makers this holiday season.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — This year, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday deals all started well before Thanksgiving weekend, and that was intentional.

"A lot of people are having lower incomes this year so spreading out that spending is really gonna be less of a hit," said Michelle Childs, Assistant Professor of Retail, Hospitality and Tourism Management at the University of Tennessee.

Childs said people will still spend money, but a lot of it will be online.

"It's a new world out there for retailers, for restaurants, boutiques, everything in between and so with more people being comfortable online sometimes it doesn't make sense to have a brick and mortar presence," she said.

That's something Demetrios Klonaris tapped into when his company Spaces in the City opened one of Knoxville's newest restaurants, Kitchen Al' Dente.

"It is strictly an online business," he said. "You can't visit this restaurant. We're a ghost kitchen. We're nowhere to be found."

Their food is delivered only through apps like Uber Eats or Grubhub.

No dine-in and no pick-up saves a lot of money when it comes to running a restaurant.

"It minimally runs as far as employees go, so your major cost is food, labor's low, and if you already have the facilities there's little overhead," he said.

Spaces in the City also owns Cafe Four, Kefi, and The Press Room, which has a commercial catering kitchen where the cooking is done right now.

Klonaris said he plans to open more "ghost kitchens" with different cuisines next year.

He's one of an already big and growing population of local businesses that live solely online, meaning you can support them from your couch.

"If you spend $100 in a small business, it's about $48 that goes back to the local economy versus #14 at like a large big box company," said Childs.

Purchasing products or gift cards can go a long way to help these small businesses.

You can find local vendors in the area on social media, by searching by location on Etsy or checking out Knoxville's Maker City Directory.