Area businesses stress shopping local this holiday season, in light of inflation and shipping delays

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The busiest shopping season is upon us and according to the National Retail Federation, millions of Americans are expecting to shop between Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday. 

Locally, small businesses have already started preparing, but this year could look a little different due to ongoing rising prices and supply chain issues across the nation.  

“From the boxes that things go in, to the ribbon that’s tied and the ingredients in the food, I mean, there’s not a single thing that I’m not paying more for,” said Shelly Roberts, the owner of Shelly’s Sweet Shoppe. 

As some shelves at grocery stores look scarce, Roberts said finding some ingredients has been hard this year. She’s been left having to stock up on items when she finds them. 

“If I can find something that I know I’m going to need and know I’m going to go through it pretty quickly, then I’ll buy more now than I used to. I used to buy more just kind of as I needed it and now I’m stocking up a little bit more, which is not really my normal mindset, but a mindset I’ve had to develop,” Roberts said.

“For instance, a couple weeks ago, I couldn’t find pumpkin anywhere. And that’s a big problem for me at Thanksgiving if I can’t find pumpkin,” she added.

Meanwhile, local clothing stores have been impacted by delays in shipments, which has affected their inventory. 

“Normally all of our inventory for the holiday time is here by July, we are actually getting deliveries as we speak,” said Tanvi Asher, the Owner of Salty Boutique and Peppermint Boutique. 

Delays at shipping ports have left some items coming into Salty Boutique months after expected and not always in the best shape. 

“We started to notice the stock that was coming in that was older. So not only was it coming in, it was coming in a little damaged. So we’ve had a little bit of issue with not just getting the product, but once we get it, there’s a quality issue with it as well,” Asher said. “We try to give everybody grace, because I know that all of us are in the same boat, but it’s just tough when you’re trying to go season by season. And now you’re getting a product that clearly is for spring arriving now.”

To deal with the ongoing economic hardships, Asher said they have have had to increase prices, but not without thinking of the customers first. 

“100% taking a slightly smaller margin than we were taking before because I think that it’s not fair to always, you know, ask a customer to kind of like pay that price. Because it’s not anything that they did either,” she said. 

Roberts said while she hasn’t increased her prices, she may have to evaluate after the New Year. 

But despite higher prices this season for businesses and consumers, the National Retail Federation predicts it could be the highest retail season on record. One reason local business owners say it’s a good year to shop small.  

“When you spend your money locally, you are putting that money directly into a family’s hands. That’s local taxes, which goes right back into the community to build better schools, to build better roads to build a bigger, better local economy,” Asher said. 

Just a little extra support for businesses, can go a long way. 

“This community has been amazing. I mean, it really does mean everything. I would not be here without that,” Roberts said. “I am well aware that sometimes it’s not always an easy thing to support a local business because maybe it costs a little bit more than running over to Wegmans and grabbing a couple cookies, or whatever is they’re looking for, but I think they appreciate the quality of what’s here. And it just fills my heart that they’re willing to still support us.”

This Saturday, November 27th, is Small Business Saturday. Store owners say it’s a great opportunity to support local vendors in the area. 

The Armory in Rochester is hosting a holiday market for small business owners from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. 

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