Now that the holiday season is over, Detroit’s small business community is seeing another decrease in sales. From the start of the pandemic, the city’s small businesses have been hit hard and, as a result, forced to either close or dramatically shift their business plan. The holidays brought a bit of respite as shoppers turned to the city’s unique stores for gift needs, but how will they fair the first quarter of the new year?
According to a recent report from the Michigan Retailers Association, 47 percent of small business owners in the city reported an increase in sales during the month of December; this due to the large influx of last-minute shoppers. Now, local Detroit organizations are pleading with residents to continue to shop, eat and buy local.
“We have been working to encourage Michiganders to shop local,” says Michele Wildman, senior vice president of community development for the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. “I know we did a lot of that during the holiday. We are trying to impress upon people to continue to shop local.”
The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is an organization geared towards establishing Michigan as a place to do and build business. With the help of over 100 economic partners, the organization also helps existing businesses in the city grow their company and execute their business plans. During the pandemic, the organization has also implemented programs and initiatives to provide aid to establishments struggling to survive the economic hold caused by COVID.
“Since the start of the pandemic, the MEDC has launched 23 separate COVID relief programs. We continue to roll out new programs as we get resources,” Wildman says.
Small businesses across the city have struggled during the pandemic. However, the stretch of Detroit businesses along the Avenue of Fashion were hit with a one-two punch. They were first ravaged by a large construction project which impacted access to the stores and then they were hit next by the coronavirus pandemic. With foot traffic at almost a standstill, businesses along this illustrious portion of the city are coping with the changes.
Dhafir Hasan, co-owner of Krispy Addicts Clothing Boutique, has had a moderate flow of business since the end of the holiday season. Opened to help combat social issues through creativity and fashion, the business is encouraging the city’s residents to support Black-owned businesses to help them make it through the pandemic and beyond.
“Residents can help small businesses during the pandemic and beyond by continuing to shop at smaller businesses and choosing the smaller retailers as opposed to shopping with the larger retailers. Spread the word with family, friends and people in your local community about your positive experiences while shopping at the smaller businesses,” Hasan says.
More than supporting the local economy, buying local also helps to support budding neighborhoods and keep employment opportunities for the community.
“Shopping locally helps the local economy. It allows small businesses to be able to retain their employees. It highlights the local untapped talent within the community that often goes unnoticed. It allows the business owners the ability to invest into their buildings and surroundings thus making a more beautiful city scenery,” Hasan says.
Encouraging residents to not only support small businesses, but to also support Michigan business as a whole, the MEDC is asking shoppers to rethink how their dollars are being spent. By adjusting a portion of purchasing made elsewhere, residents can help create a large amount of in-state revenue.
“If we all switch just one out of ten out-of-state purchases to an in-state purchase, we could generate up to $1.2 billion dollars in economic activity,” Wildman says.
By shopping local, residents not only support small businesses, but the community at large. Keeping money in the neighborhood allows for continued building projects, new businesses and community roots for generations to come.