As supply chain challenges continue for large businesses and retailers, small businesses, which typically rely less on global supply chains, are adapting quickly, making them a smart choice for retail purchases. Holidays.
“In general, small businesses tend to be a lot more nimble, a lot faster at adapting to market conditions,” said Michael Arriola, North Carolina district manager for the US Small Business Administration.
This does not mean that small businesses do not face challenges during this time.
The effects of the pandemic, including a labor shortage, are realities that small businesses in the Triangle still face on a daily basis.
But buying small has additional benefits that can generate money for local economies, making it not only a viable alternative right now, but also one that can support your local community year round.
We spoke with Arriola, as well as Jennifer Martin with Shop Local Raleigh and local business owner Dave Wofford, about the importance of buying locally and how small businesses are adjusting during this time. .
Here’s what we’ve learned, including some tips and tricks you can use to shop small in the Triangle this holiday season.
Why are small businesses less vulnerable to supply chain issues?
▪ Less dependent on the supply chain: Characteristically, small businesses are less dependent on the global supply chain, Arriola said.
Dave Wofford owns Horse & Buggy Press, based in Durham, a graphic design, letterpress printing and book production studio combined with an arts and crafts gallery. The gallery sells everything from handmade earrings for $ 40 to “museum quality” paintings for $ 5,000.
Wofford told The News & Observer that there is a main reason his small business is not affected by current supply chain issues: “The work of local artists is not sitting on freighters “.
“I’m saying that kind of to remind you that, hey, overall this thing is going on,” he said. “But if you know what’s going on in your community, you can still buy art and you can still buy meaningful holiday gifts and not be affected.”
▪ Adapt quickly to delays: If small businesses depend on the supply chain, they are unlikely to be locked into complex contracts with their suppliers, allowing them to adapt more quickly in the event of a delay or disruption.
“If you own a small retailer and you don’t get the service or supply you need, you pick up the phone and turn to another,” Arriola said. “It’s not that easy for big box retailers, who are locked into these huge global contractual arrangements.”
▪ Resilience, flexibility. By nature, small businesses and those who own them are also resilient and tend to have a fighting spirit, as their livelihood depends on it, Jennifer Martin, executive director of Shop Local Raleigh, told The N&O.
“They get it because they have to,” Martin said. “They don’t have these giant 401Ks to back them up or huge investors to back them up.”
What challenges do small businesses face?
But just because small businesses aren’t so affected by supply chain issues doesn’t mean they don’t face other challenges.
▪ The labor shortage is a harsh reality for many small local businesses, and it’s forcing some of them to cut their hours of operation or even change their traditional vacation offerings, Martin said.
Restaurants that typically offer holiday catering or open their dining rooms for private events may decline this year, and other businesses may close certain days of the week or reduce their hours of operation to conserve energy. of their limited staff.
▪ Competetion is a big deal. In general, small businesses also face competition from big box stores, chain stores, and online retailers, and it can be difficult to bring shoppers to the store as a first option.
Wofford is hoping for a booming holiday shopping season for his business and others like it.
But many people don’t recognize that they have local options that could solve their buying problems, he said.
“I still think that unfortunately too many people think that buying freebies is something you do on your computer rather than go out. “
Why should I buy small?
▪ It boosts the local economy. According to an American Express study, an average of 67 cents per dollar spent in small businesses stays in the local economy.
The same study showed that every dollar spent in small businesses created an additional 50 cents of local business activity, generated by spending by employees and businesses purchasing local goods and services from other small businesses in their community.
This money adds to the tax base of local communities and can support infrastructure such as roads, parks and schools.
“Going small shopping isn’t just a good thing to say, ‘Oh yeah, I did my good deed for the day,’” said Arriola. “But there are also huge tangible benefits for you and me, because that money comes back to us in the form of investments and other expenses which are then fed back into the local community.”
These factors make it important to shop small all year round, not just during the holidays, Arriola said.
“For a variety of reasons, small businesses should be your first choice and not your type of safeguard mechanism,” he said.
▪ It’s funny. Shopping local can offer unique products and services that you might not find anywhere else, making it a fun shopping experience.
“I understand it’s no fun going to Best Buy and standing in line to buy a PlayStation,” Wofford said. “But I hope it’s fun to go to a gallery and find a book, or a print, or a painting, or a piece of pottery or a piece of glass.”
How to shop small in the Triangle
▪ At the store. Despite the labor shortage, many stores are still open regularly and have plenty of stock to shop for, Martin said. If you like to see and smell items before you buy, drop by your favorite small businesses and visit them in person. Advice: Check store hours online or by calling before you travel.
▪ In line. Many small businesses have websites or social media accounts where they sell their products online. Contact your favorite business to see if they offer online shopping. Shop Local Raleigh also offers an online store with various gifts from Raleigh-based businesses. Advice: Shipping from local stores may take longer than popular 2-day shipping options elsewhere, so plan ahead if you want something before Christmas. Curbside delivery or in-store pickup may also be available.
▪ Holiday markets. The holiday season is full of seasonal pop-up markets, teeming with local artisans and businesses ready to sell their produce. Marketplaces give shoppers the ability to see many small businesses in one place and simultaneously check out many gifts on your shopping list. News & Observer’s November Events Guide includes information on some upcoming holiday markets in the Triangle.
▪ Small business Saturday. Established in 2010, Small Business Saturday falls on the Saturday immediately following Thanksgiving and is an opportunity to support local businesses as the holiday shopping season kicks off. Companies may offer special discounts or other offers to celebrate. Check with your favorite local business to find out their plans for this year.
▪ Buy gift cards. If you don’t have time to visit local businesses or your loved ones are difficult to buy, many small businesses offer gift cards to buy instead.
Tips for buying local in 2021
▪ Check the opening hours. With a reduced staff, some stores and restaurants could operate on limited hours. Check online or call before you go to make sure your favorite store is open when you want to visit.
▪ Be patient and understanding. Downsizing can also mean small businesses are stretched over the holiday season. Be patient when shopping in-store or waiting for purchases to ship, and give store owners and employees a little cheer when possible.
▪ Be flexible. We all have our holiday traditions, but they may have to be different this year, Martin said. For example, if you can’t get a reservation at your favorite restaurant, consider grabbing takeout and then bringing your food to a local park for a picnic or eating it by your tree light. of Christmas.
▪ Buy experiences. Experiences are “the gift that keeps on giving,” Martin said. If you are looking for a special gift or a fun experience for yourself, consider purchasing tickets for a concert at a local concert hall or visiting a local art exhibition, followed by lunch or dinner. at a local restaurant.
Editor-in-chief Lars Dolder contributed to this report.