Pensacola’s families are gearing up for the holidays, and the small business community is no exception.
And in a year when inflation is soaring, housing costs are increasing and many families are cutting back, small business owners say it’s more important than ever that the community and its business owners support one another.
“Well, No. 1, if the community doesn’t support the local business, then the local businesses won’t survive,” said Pensacola business owner Tommy White.
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Tommy and Tracy White operate East King’s Corner Café, Tracy’s Boutique shop and an event space at 1400 N. Davis Highway. They are hosting sales for Black Friday — with some casual wear, accessories, jewelry and other items at Tracy’s Boutique going 50% off — as well as working to organize a Small Business Saturday event with other local vendors.
The Whites said they enjoy the company of the people who come in and out of their café and boutique. For them, it’s about knowing customers by name and building relationships. They added the event space to have a gathering spot for the community to have events, to sit, talk and feel safe.
“When we started this thing, we started it for the community and we wanted to end with the community,” Tracy White said. “And we want to make it a place where the community really can come together and be at peace. We push for relaxation and we push for our family time. We make it just nice for our community and we want our community to understand that we are here and we’re doing everything possible to make this place worthwhile.”
Todd Thomson, President/CEO of Greater Pensacola Chamber of Commerce, said holiday shopping at local business provides an experience that you just can’t find online.
It’s easy to go a website, click a button and get items delivered right to your house, but going downtown, having a meal, going to a coffee shop and receiving a warm holiday drink is a time to enjoy with family and get the most of the shopping experience, he said.
“It’s important to support those local businesses. That money stays here in our local economy,” Thomson said. “It supports more jobs, it brings in more tax revenue for our local government and just overall helps lift all boats in our community.”
Although the series of shopping holidays running this weekend — Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday — are still forecast to be among the biggest sales days of the year, there is evidence people are cutting back.
Commercial real estate company JLL conducted a survey found that 49.7% of consumers earning less than $50,000 plan to significantly cut their budgets because of inflation, while only about 24% of those earning $150,000 or more will do the same.
National Retail Federation Senior Director for Industry and Consumer Insights Katherine Cullen told the USA TODAY Network, “Inflation and higher prices are certainly top of mind for shoppers at the moment.”
As a result, many are “looking for value and deals,” including “shopping at different brands than they would otherwise, and they’re also considering discount stores,” Cullen said.
Many small business owners are hopeful shoppers will give them a chance this holiday.
Adam Ynafante is the co-owner of Garden Street Vintage in Pensacola, a clothing store at 100 S. Jefferson St. that sells vintage streetwear, baseball hats, band T-shirts, sneakers and other items.
Ynafante knows Small Business Saturday and the holidays are important for them to survive. That is why being able to see people come in and be surprised about the uniqueness of the small shop and watching customers leave with a huge smile on their face always bolsters the shop owners’ confidence.
“Pensacola, it’s nice because we do have such an abundance of small businesses and the community is super supportive. So it’s very important to keep it that way and not not let bigger companies come in and control what’s going on,” Ynafante said. “And the thing with us is that we’re lucky we’re in our own kind of realm with vintage clothing, that there is no big company to knock us out, and that we’re here. Choosing what kind of style we want to bring to the community.”
FLORIDA TODAY Business Editor Dave Berman contributed to this report.