This week and last, we have been out visiting our independent retailers and showcasing many of the stores and the specials they'll be offering for this weekend's sidewalk sale event. I love doing this as it gives us the opportunity to share our businesses with each of you, and selfishly I love it because it also gives me the chance to connect with these business owners individually to get the 'state of the state'.
But these weeks have shown a new and struggling side of the retail industry. The hill our independently owned retail and restaurant friends have to climb right now is a big one: from staffing challenges to inflation, ever-changing social media algorithms to increased stressors. You may be reading this thinking 'I don't shop locally because they're always higher priced'. But do you know why? Believe it or not, it is not so they can get rich, though they certainly are trying to make a living. Their prices may be higher, in part, because they can't compete with big box stores, they aren't able to purchase in bulk and, of course, inflation has hit them just as hard as it has everyone else. Their freight costs are often more than triple what they were just a year ago, and the inventory often isn't even getting to them in the season when it would sell (e.g. think swimsuits arriving in December!).
The next time you find yourself saying 'That Costs How Much?!' please remember that these small businesses simply cannot absorb the increased costs they're seeing on a routine basis. Margins are generally pretty nominal for small businesses in a normal time, and with such inflated costs of doing business, there are many cases in which they are not making enough to cover their overhead, and are fearful of passing that along to you and I as customers.
Please don't misunderstand this as a plea to financially strap yourself further than you already may be, but do take it as a reminder to support local whenever possible. We have a vibrant business community, and we want to help keep it that way - to do that takes support from many to keep the wheels turning.
p.s. If you haven't been following along, be sure to check out the savings being offered during Saturday's Ridiculous Day. Hope to see you downtown supporting small businesses!