The term Black Friday originally meant the day of the year that businesses typically went from being in the 'red' to getting into the 'black'. But is that really what is still happening today?
As small business owners, we understand all too well the challenges of operating a profitable business. Our customers demand the best product, the best service and convenience - along with attractive pricing.
We do our absolute best to offer the best products that we can manufacture with limited machinery to assist us. It's mostly done by hand, our products are made in Baxter, MN. Not China. Not Japan. Our costs are higher than the 'big box' stores because we can't compete with the sheer volume of mass made products that they purchase for pennies on the dollar.
We have always provided the absolute best service to our customers. We make ourselves available via Facebook messenger when the store isn't open. Are you able to get local, live help from the big guys like that? You might get an 800 number to call, but that isn't local, and it certainly isn't the personal service we offer.
As for convenience, adding our website to our toolbox has been a step in the right direction for convenience. Our website isn't just a sales tool. It's also an educational tool, for your use, 24/7. We know that we can't be open from
9 am - 9 pm 6 days a week. There are only 2.5 people manufacturing, packaging, stocking, selling and educating. People have suggested we hire more help. We recognize that we can't just hire anyone and still provide the level of expertise and customization that our customers have become accustomed to. No, if we were to hire, it must be someone who has at least as much knowledge about Essential Oils and Herbs as we have - if not more knowledge than what we have. That's a tough person to find. We don't plan on compromising our reputation by hiring just anyone.
So back to Black Friday. Black Friday has become a race to the bottom. The bottom of prices. As we watch the big retailers drastically discount items to lure shoppers, we cringe. That kind of discounting is not feasible for small businesses. If we attempted to do that, it would ultimately be a 'business closing' sale. We don't purchase for pennies on the dollar. We don't have the massive margins to lure you into our store by discounting 50-80%. It would be retail suicide.
Today, I paid close attention to what was happening. Not just in our store, but in the mall too. There were LOTS of people in the mall. We were excited to be a part of this busy shopping day.
Now, I need to back up for just a bit.
We have had one dollar bath bombs available for a couple of months now. And customers have been scooping them up like crazy! What a great stocking stuffer!!! But today .... today things had a different spin.
I watched group after group of people get 'lured' in to our store by our one dollar bath bomb sign. I watched as they scrutinized the one dollar bath bombs. Then, I watched group after group walk out of the store. Without purchasing anything. We overheard comments that weren't necessarily nice, about our one dollar bath bombs. No, they aren't the full size bath bombs. Why? Because the full size bath bombs cost more to make, and we can't sell them for one dollar. No one can sell a product for less than it costs!
Now, I'm no different than anyone else. I love a great deal too. I find myself complaining about the cost of things in stores. I am so frugal with my money. No. I am cheap. For real. There are things that I will spend more money on, but there are a lot more things that I won't. Or that I just won't buy at all. So, I get it.
But that race to the bottom of prices? It isn't sustainable for us to even try. We have had a challenging year, this year. We are hopeful that our holiday sales numbers pull us back into our normal range. We aren't even hoping to surpass last years sales. We just want to reach the same sales number as we did last year. We would be happy about that. Of course, we would be ecstatic to have higher numbers than last year too!!!
People flocked to the chain stores. There were obviously great deals to be had at the chain stores. The sheer number of large, obviously heavy bags that people were carrying ... with the name of the other bath product store on them, further chipped away at my confidence.
BUT, we have the confidence in our products. We can talk to you about our products with extensive knowledge. They work well, and are safe for you and your family. Again, we don't import the product from China, then package it all in the USA. Our products aren't full of chemicals and fillers, it's all just pure goodness!
We really, really appreciate our customers who choose us over anyone else, who continue to tell people about us, and who also appreciate what we do and why we do it. Without every single one of them, we would not be in business today. We don't advertise. Our customers do that for us. It has been the core of our business since about our 2nd year. Let our products impress our customers, which leads to our customers talking about how impressed they are with our products! That's a win-win for everyone!
So, as we head into Small Business Saturday, we respectfully request that you shop small, shop local and understand the benefits of having small businesses in your community. We are here for you. We hear you. We do our best every single day for you.
Greg & Ronda are parents, grandparents, business owners and manufacturers.