Demand is on the rise for small retailers, but supply is another story

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Fears of the Delta variant weren’t enough to keep consumers from shopping in August, according to the latest sales figures from the United States Census Bureau. But while demand remained strong last month, retailers themselves face a variety of supply chain issues.

Throughout the past year, Marketplace has followed several small business retailers as they navigate the pandemic. To get a feel for what’s going on this fall, we called several to see how business is going.

Annie Lang Hartman, owner of Compass Paper Co. in Leland, Michigan

Business this year has been absolutely crazy. Our physical retail space is currently up 193% compared to last year. We were fortunate not to have to change our prices. I think an item we sell has gone up a few cents. The product I thought about the most was a product that really surprised me. We added insulated camp mugs last Christmas as a gift, and we just blew them out so fast. I feel like we rearrange inventory for them every two weeks so I’m really starting to look if we can find another manufacturer that has better prices now that we know we need to make this product bigger. ladder.


Irene Kesselman, owner of Ali cat toys in Carrboro, North Carolina

Business has definitely picked up in the last few months, and that’s a good thing. We have received and continue to receive weekly price increases of many, many, many [the companies that supply us]. And then it forces us to decide whether, in fact, we want to increase our prices or keep them the same. The holidays are here, however. We set up our paper in a way that our customers know we’d love to wrap for them. And we’ve received a lot of our goods and a lot of our seasonal goods probably a month earlier than I usually would, again, to avoid price increases and to make sure we get the product.


Gary Merriman, owner of The falcon fish in Atlanta, Georgia

Business has been good. We have seen a slight slowdown with the start of the school year and the start of football. We are now starting to change some prices, mainly because we find that the products cost more – and in some cases 15-20% more, which is quite substantial. I think the holidays will be good. I mean, people are still shopping and still spending money. They just have to settle for maybe not exactly what they want. Some brands have reels, rods and even clothes that if I don’t have them in stock and they want me to order them for them, it may take months before I can receive them.

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