The Small Business Saturday Blog post you weren’t expecting...
As Small Business Saturday approaches (for the 3rd year I’ve been in business) I am struggling with offering a discount. Sure everyone expects a Black Friday Discount and even a Cyber Monday Sale (for those of us online). But that’s not what Small Business Saturday is about....Small Business Saturday (SBS) helps us buy gifts for our families, in my case, this year, it’s helping me pay off a pile of medical bills and future healthcare as well as flying out to see my son graduate from boot camp in January. We have some very slow months throughout the year and really count on the Holiday Season to get us in the green. So, please do not come in expecting a 50% off sale on this day, but Please DO still come in and shop, I truly do need and appreciate your support. It’s just, often, 50% off is my cost for that product and I’m still paying for the shipping, tissue, bags, labels, ribbon and sometimes champagne and cookies to enhance your shopping experience and lure you in to shop with me instead of ZARA. Small businesses have a story and as an owner who does 100% of what it takes to run the shop, we love to share our hearts and stories with you and you won’t get that at a department store.
My first year in business, SBS was my most profitable day. We were new to the “locals block” and we had an amazing community and support from the city to campaign for keeping it local. No one expected a discount, they were happy to support us. The 2nd year, not so much. After a year of being in business I noticed a trend. A. Instagram’s algorithm was killing our ability to attract more local customers and B. bloggers and influencers were becoming increasingly greedy. ( big disclaimer inserted here ) *if you are a blogger or influencer, you will probably not like what I’m about to talk about.
You think you are supporting my small business by commenting on my posts or stories with “want” or “need”, but in actuality you’re hurting my business. First, other young girls are seeing this trend to “act entitled” and “want and need” free stuff as well, so there’s goes more of that demographic that used to support me. They are now sitting back waiting for their free stuff instead of shopping.
Then, there’s the picky blogger, the one who wants to cherry pick my last size S or in most cases my last item at all in that style run because it is really hot at the moment and “everybody wants it”.... guess what, that’s deff not helping or supporting me either. After about a year and half of giving some of my cutest stuff away to bloggers, (don’t get me wrong, I’m a giver, it’s one of my Love Languages) I’ve only gained one thing...more followers ( just like you) who “want or need for free” and my business still hasn’t turned a profit. Let me point something out...followers do not equal dollar signs. Ever.
My next point I want to make about using influencers to help grow your business is this. Sure, I will still use an influencer here and there but only under certain terms. I will send you clothing for free that needs to be moved and styled in exchange for your styled pics and tags on YOUR social media as well, to help move that inventory. You may not even like what I send you. It may not even fit you the way you want it to....but guess what. In the 90s I was a model, and back then, you didn’t get to chose what you wore or how you styled it and you certainly didn’t get it for free. It was your job and a privilege to work in the fashion industry.
I love and respect the blogger / influencer who understands this fact and treats our relationship as one of employee/employer. And I’m delighted to give those a generous discount for the clothing of their choice as well as size of their choice in exchange for them to help promote MY shop.
However, my last point and biggest pet peeve of all dealing with influencers is this...... PLEASE do NOT tag the vendor or label to get their attention and make me seem less significant. I am a small business owner and I NEED the recognition for curating a cute collection of clothing that is exclusive to this area. If you want the larger label to notice you, contact them directly and work with them, but then do not go and toot your horn about supporting small or local because that’s not how it works. If you want to truly make a difference in your community, then please keep it local with the tagging and recognition.
I’d also like to acknowledge the vendors who understand what it takes to survive as a small business. I’m so grateful for the vendor who offers a discount in advance to stock up for the after Thanksgiving sales.. and ships out on time to guarantee I receive before the big weekend. You are my hero’s. This is by far the best strategy to making SBS a success.
However, I’ve experienced the vendor who I’ve ordered from the day the collection launches and I don’t get my product till 4 months later..at this point, it’s a different season, my customer has lost faith in me and has purchased from you directly, but that’s what you were counting on. This is unacceptable, especially when you promote supporting small businesses. This is not promoting us, this is taking advantage of our ability to make you look popular and frankly, you shouldn’t be a wholesaler if you can’t have the integrity to supply to your wholesale accounts first. Just be a retailer if you can’t ship the product out timely.
Well, if you’re still reading this and still want to support my shop, I’m so incredibly thankful for you and your moral convictions. It’s people like you that make having a shop and dream come true even possible. I “need and want” more of YOU! 💋
Please feel free to comment and share this post to help spread awareness of how important it really is to keep it local this holiday season and ALL YEAR LONG.