Amid Black Friday sales, retailers are still dealing with inflation
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The holiday weekend could be a whopper for retailers, with the National Retail Federation estimating as many as 166.3 million shoppers could hit stores from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday. But while millions may pass through the checkout counters, rising costs are putting some retailers in a tough place — especially small businesses.
Marketplace checked in with three small businesses ahead of the holiday weekend to see how they’re dealing with costs and customer traffic.
Kristin Thalheimer Bingham, co-owner of Dean’s Sweets in Portland, Maine
“Costs did start to level out mid-fall after increasing multiple times over spring and summer. We did, however, increase our prices,” said Kristin Thalheimer Bingham, who co-owns the chocolate shop Dean’s Sweets in Portland, Maine, with her husband, Dean.
“It was not at all what we wanted to do, but we could see how tight our margins were getting, how everything was getting more expensive — not just ingredients, but everything, like utilities and shipping. It really hit home that if we want to keep our business alive, we needed to raise our prices.”
That said, Thalheimer Bingham was buoyed by the prospect of last-minute orders. “I’d love to see us get a few more big orders,” she said. “Those wonderful surprises that we have to push hard to get the job done. If we’re organized and prepared enough, then no one will get too exhausted, and we can say yes to those big surprises.”
Diane Jenks at HubBub Bicycles in Kirtland, Ohio
Our costs are going up,” said Diane Jenks from HubBub Bicycles in Kirtland, Ohio. “Especially freight seems to be really expensive right now, regardless of the purveyor you use.”
“We have begun passing freight on to customers,” she added.
For HubBub, which makes and repairs custom bikes, proprietary parts are a chief concern. “Like e-bikes that are coming in a box from some manufacturer with proprietary parts that you really can’t work on,” said Jenks. “And you hate to turn people away. But sometimes you have to do that.”
Phillip Rollins, owner of OffBeat in Jackson, Mississippi
“This year’s holiday season, I can’t compare it [to others] just yet because I’m in a new location,” said Phillip Rollins, owner of OffBeat in Jackson, Mississippi. The shop sells vinyl records, comics and collectible toys. “I don’t have a lot of foot traffic per se, as people would think. I’ll still be kind of like a destination spot for a lot of people if they want to do some holiday shopping.”
Rollins is hoping to do a lot of business before the year is out. “As far as what I would like to see over the next few weeks, hopefully tons of sales. “That’d be ideal, of course, but you know, I would like to help as many people as possible find the records that they are looking for or find a turntable they’ve been looking for.”
He added, “I am anxious to see what happens next, especially within December because after that it kind of dies down until March or April.”
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