Image via Tumisu from pixabay.com
Written by Breanna Hardy
Black Friday and Cyber Monday typically bring in the biggest sales of the year for retail giants. This year, small businesses need corporations to take a back seat to Small Business Saturday.
“Shopping small business of course is extremely important, especially in today’s times with Covid,” said Greg Newman, president/CEO of the Clovis Chamber of Commerce.
Small businesses make up a majority of businesses in the United States and they also provide a majority of jobs.
Newman encourages people to get out, if they feel comfortable doing so, to shop small. He also encourages people who stay home to shop online at small businesses.
“Anything our community can do to keep our small businesses going is extremely important,” Newman said.
Marielle Parrish, owner of home décor retailer Happy House in Fresno, said she is hoping for a good turnout for this year’s Small Business Saturday since last year was her best business day of the year.
The one-year-old boutique sources home goods from artisans.
“Especially now with being in the purple tier, I can’t have as many people in there, so I’ll also be pushing more cyber stuff than I typically do,” Parrish said.
Gov. Gavin Newsom’s announcement moving 40 counties back into the purple tier limits capacity in stores to 25% and prohibits indoor dining.
In the next week she will compensate for limited capacity by adding more items to her website, but shipping between her wholesalers and her store has been getting delayed too.
“My biggest issue right now is shipping issues,” she said, “That is really frustrating because I’ve had four huge shipments get messed up in the last week.”
Buying inventory from her wholesalers holds a great deal of uncertainty coming into the holiday season, and Parrish says it’s scary to buy more inventory than customers will make up for.
“Last year, I had bought so much inventory, and I’m buying inventory now but it’s a little more frightening to buy in such big bulks,” she said. “I need the inventory, but it is a little scary to order it all when there’s Covid.”
Wholesale vendors are hurting too, and they’re requiring a higher minimum for small shops’ inventory orders.
“If we get closed down again, you don’t want to spend $10,000 on home goods that are just going to sit on the floor,” she said.
Last year, she said Happy House was packed, but this year her store’s capacity in the purple tier is only four people.
There are other ways Parrish is getting creative with her business, though. Happy House is offering a wreath-making class, which private parties can reserve together. Parrish said this allows customers to make appointments with people they have already been around, versus being in close proximity to strangers.
The classes have been even more popular than last year, she said.
But some small business owners are taking advantage of outdoor pop-ups to keep capacity out of the equation.
Jill Spruance, owner of Basilwood Farm in Prather, started hosting a series of outdoor pop-ups featuring local artisans on Nov. 21. Her own soap business will be open for Small Business Saturday. Another pop-up is on Dec. 5.
“It was kind of our way of helping people like us who are not able to host as many events this year,” Spruance said.
Spruance sells goat milk soap, lotion and bath bombs. The pop-ups will host five other vendors.
“Most of these people have a very heavy local following, so people want to buy from them directly,” she said.
The outside event will allow more customers to pass through without worrying about indoor capacity. Spruance also says that her farm in Prather provides a more relaxed and safe shopping environment. Because of the amount of land, people will naturally be distanced.
A lot of the featured vendors base their sole income on their businesses.
“They don’t really have an outlet besides shows, so we’re trying to just boost their economy,” Spruance said.
Throughout the pandemic, her customers have been faithful and kept her business running.
“Our customers are extremely amazing people; I mean I knew that before, but I know it even more now,” Spruance said.
Make Pie Not War, a Fresno handmade jewelry business, will have a pop-up with Scribble & Script, a hand lettering and custom signage business, at The Shop at KLSD in Downtown Fresno for Small Business Saturday.
The pop-up will feature owner Alana Little’s popular “Zap and Chat,” which is an appointment with Little to get a custom-welded bracelet that customers don’t take off. Welded together without a clasp, the bracelets are considered “forever bracelets.”
“I just enjoy the chatting part, getting to know my customers,” Little said. “It’s just a really sweet time to bond because we all feel really segregated and isolated right now.”
The pop-up will be outside, and customers can make 10-minute appointments.
“We’ve been planning this for a month or so; even when we were in the red, we were still going to do it outside,” Little said.
Little has an Etsy store as well where she sells her jewelry online, which has kept her business running when her wholesale and pop-up revenue decreased. The momentum slowed down dramatically, which Little says took some getting used to back in the spring.
“Not being busy as a maker and small business – that’s a very scary feeling for us,” Little said. “Thankfully with technology I’m able to stay afloat during this year.”
Even though shopping at national retailers like Amazon and Target is convenient we need people to shop locally, Newman said.
“Get out and support our small businesses; it’s the best thing you can do for your community at this time,” he added.