Y’all, I’m crying over here about how lucky we are right now with my small business. My little Etsy shop usually dries up right after October since we sell wedding favors. This year, COVID-19 took its bite of sales and we didn’t even get the chance to have sales dry up. Sales stopped suddenly in March and we watched the wedding season go by with just a small portion of what we would usually make. Even worse, many pre-paid events canceled and requested refunds, so at times, money was going out, not in.
Because my little gifts seem to be most popular in states like California and New York with much tighter restrictions, we never really bounced back in Etsy sales when Tennessee opened up. Sales were down 64% for the year and we decided we would be just waiting on 2020 to end and hoped the 2021 wedding season would be better.
And then something unexpected happened and we were able to do more than a happy dance; we were able to invite others to dance with us.
A couple of pretty obscure little holiday products that produced just a little bit of income in the previous Decembers, were suddenly a hit. Sales of our Hot Cocoa Mini Mugs and Mini Biscuit & Pancake Mixes skyrocketed around Thanksgiving, and haven’t stopped. In three weeks we sold what would have usually taken us half a year to produce. This is where the dancing starts.
But for a small business, there is more to do than just dance.
You have to produce, and this is when others get to join in. We were able to grow, to expand hours for our current staff and hire more people to take on the influx of production. Those are people in the local community that will, in turn, spend their paychecks in and around Knoxville. When you order online from Amazon, you may be supporting some payroll for their staff, but the majority of profits will stay with the owner and not in your local community. Jeff Bezos is not dancing because you ordered from him, but when you support a local small business, you support the people that work there and help them support their families and the community.
Here are 5 ways a local small business will do a happy dance when you buy from them:
1. The owners make more money. We don’t buy stock and give dividends; we pay for dance class for our kids and season passes to the zoo.
2. The businesses pay their bills. We support our suppliers (all local stores) and pay for things like rent and trash service, and local sales tax that in turn put money back into the local community.
3. They plan for the future. Investments in the business go back to helping the local community be better and making the business grow.
4. They get confidence back. For most entrepreneurs, our business is our baby, and we take it personally when it is not doing well.
5. They hire staff. Local staff buy groceries, gas and goods in the community and may hire others to do things like babysit and mow the lawn, keeping money local.