MCPHERSON, Kan. (KSNW) — Locally owned shops saw a big push during the pandemic, but now that it’s over, some McPherson businesses say things have changed.

“We are not busy at all,” said La Belle Owner Lia Cobb.

La Belle is a clothing store in downtown McPherson, just one of the many stores saying customers aren’t coming through the doors.

“We don’t have the traffic. We are not able to reorder inventory nobody is going to come into an empty shop,” said The Pink Flamingo Owner Chad Mock.

Mock said it’s a struggle to keep his doors open.

The Mayor of McPherson believes part of the issue is downtown is changing, with more offices opening instead of shops.

“I think that there are going to be difficult days if you are a small specialty retail store that doesn’t have a regional draw,” said McPherson Mayor Tom Brown.

Not only is it hurting business, but it’s also taking away opportunities for those at Sunflower Mercantile, run by Multi Community Diversified Services (MCDS).

It gives clients at MCDS with intellectual or developmental disabilities a chance to work and make homemade goods such as lotions, candles, and soap.

“We just don’t get to have our clients down there as much as we want to, and that is really been sad to watch cause that was a big part of some of our client’s lives for a while,” said Kylee Kaufman, Sunflower Mercantile manager.

Jeremy Hill with Wichita State University’s (WSU) Center for Economic Development and Business Research said some households changed the way they shopped as the pandemic went on.

“And households have really had all this really whipsaw fear of this economy this entire last two to three years,” said Hill.

These business owners are hoping to keep Main Street alive.

“I’d like to see that again that sense of community is really important, and we are kind of losing that here,” said Kaufman.

Next week, at least six of the downtown businesses are meeting to come up with a plan to band together to get more people to shop locally.