Small business checkup and ways to show support during the holidays

Collaborator: Rachael Schuit
Published: 12/01/2021, 5:35 PM
Edited: 12/01/2021, 6:26 PM

(MICHIGAN) For many people, the end of the year involves multiple get-togethers and long shopping lists. For small businesses, it's one of the most important times of the year. 

"The sales that happen in November or December make or break most restaurants or retailers," said Rob Fowler, the CEO for the Small Business Association of Michigan (SBAM). "They're either profitable for the year or they're not depending up on the sales during the season."

Fowler said shopping local doesn't just help small businesses, it also has an effect on the economy. 

"For every ten purchases that are made from companies located outside of our state, if one of those ten were redirected to a Michigan company, it'd be two billion dollars to the Michigan economy, so it really matters," said Fowler. 

For a good part of the COVID-19 pandemic, Michigan had capacity limitations in place and restaurants were only allowed to do carry-out at certain points. 

Fowler said small businesses are in different places in terms of how they've recovered and how they're currently doing. 

"I talk to small businesses all the time who either just had the best year they've ever had or just had the worst year they've ever had," said Fowler. 

However, even without dine-in and capacity restrictions this year, there are three challenges many small businesses are facing: staffing shortages, supply chain issues, and inflation. 

"We see it all over our state, that there are restaurants who have to be closed on days of the week or change their hours of operation because they simply can't find enough people to work and it's a very real issue for nearly every small business in the state," said Fowler. 

Determining if or how high prices should be raised because of inflation has been another challenge. 

"We haven't had this kind of inflation since the 1970's or 80's," said Fowler. "So, if you haven't been in business since then or if you've started your business since then and most have, most business owners have never navigated all your costs going up at the same time. And then trying to manage your pricing so that you can still be profitable, but you don't run away your customers." 

Many people also realized the convenience of shopping online during the pandemic, and small businesses have adapted to meet that need.  

"Shopping from a Michigan-based company online is perfectly fine in terms of making contribution to the state's economy," said Fowler. 

Overall, Fowler said the most important thing you can do to help small businesses during the holiday season can be summed up in two words: "shop small."


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