Rural small businesses are sticking it to the tough economic times, as they keep up the fight to thrive over the last 20 months.
For Daines and Daubney in Wainwright, the challenges of doing business in the COVID world has demonstrated that resilient rural spirit in a community of just over 6,000 people.
Dana Smith who has been in business for seven years says the business had a foray in to Vermilion, but the economic challenges halted that expansion.
Smith says the home, lifestyle apparel and accessories boutique offers a little bit of everything for each room. She says it’s been an exciting adventure and a rollercoaster ride at the same time.
“We put a ton of work, effort and thought into our displays right from the very beginning. What we have found increasingly over the years is that people don’t tend to browse near as much, and shopping is not as much of a hobby as it once was when we first started. It’s more of a necessity now.”
She says their displays are set up to inspire people with home decor ideas and particularly in a time when customers can go online, they are able to present that option to get foot traffic into the store to see a creative trend.
Smith uses social media to get images of their merchandise in the hands of prospective clients. She admits to the advantages of having online promotion, but still sees the value of a brick and mortar location.
“So there’s the odd time it crosses our mind, that maybe we could be running the business out of a warehouse and not have the store front, but the other aspect of the business is that we inspire and those people that come in the store, they gain a lot of experience.”
As business in small communities continue to contrive strategies to survive the COVID fallout, Smith notes these are unprecedented times. In the first few weeks of Spring 2020 with the lockdown, they battled just trying to survive with even curbside sales. She said sales plummeted leading up to Mother’s Day which is their second biggest sales period after Christmas. The next hurdle was getting staff, but now they have run into a shipping crisis as they try to get stock into the store. She says this was to be expected as manufacturing and shipping slowed down, but not on such a grand scale.
“I would estimate I get on average, five to ten emails a day from my suppliers indicating that they ran into another issue with shipping/manufacturing and they are adding a new surcharge. A lot of our orders are placed almost a year in advance. So Christmas is purchased in January for the following December. And they are adding surcharges to those orders that have been placed nine months ago.”
She says if they refuse to pay, then they don’t get the order. She says Christmas could account for about 60 per cent of their revenue.
Smith says she keeps at it knowing they are not alone and other businesses are dealing with the same supply issues and rising costs, some of which they will absorb as they cater to customers in small communities.