KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL)- The Downtown Kingsport Association is dedicated to the revitalization of the area it represents.

News Channel 11’s Kristen Gallant was in Kingsport Thursday morning as the Downtown Kingsport Association worked to find new opportunities to help businesses thrive downtown.

Many small businesses have been and continue to be impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, but the association is hoping to support new businesses in the area, with the goal to help continue revitalization downtown.

“My mom and I weave baskets, and that’s what I sell a lot,” said small business owner Peatronella Shepard. “I travel all over America. We travel all over America selling our baskets.”

Shepard makes all kinds of unique, handmade African-style merchandise.

Because of COVID-19, she’s not been able to travel. Instead, she’s been at the Kingsport Farmers Market selling her items.

However, when the farmers market closed for the season, she wasn’t sure how she would continue her business.

“Small businesses are the backbone of the American economy, I think we all realize that, and they have been challenged during the pandemic,” said Downtown Kingsport Association Executive Director Robin Cleary. “We are here to support all the businesses, the merchants, to promote downtown Kingsport as a destination for shopping, dining, entertainment and just community.”

The group is giving new businesses a unique opportunity to have a trial run in downtown Kingsport by creating pop-up shops.

“For me, I’m just starting with a pop-up shop, but my desire is to have a shop long-term,” said Shepard. “But I think it’s good for me to have a pop-up shop to see how it goes and if I’m in the right location. So it’s good for me, but it’s also good for the realtor, because instead of having an empty shop right there, it’s good to give us an opportunity.”

Shepard only has to pay for a two-month lease instead of signing a year-long contract.

The Downtown Kingsport Association is also helping Shepard grow her shop’s brand.

“She gave me a name for a real estate company in Kingsport here,” said Shepard. “And she’s also trying to help me with social media so I know more on how to advertise my business.”

Shepard hopes her art shop will make an impression on the Kingsport community, while the Downtown Kingsport Association hopes her business and other pop-up shops in the community will help strengthen the local economy.

Peatronella’s Designs opens Thursday on Broad Street in downtown Kingsport.