Small businesses anticipate a strong holiday season

By: Brendan Losinski | Troy Times | Published November 21, 2022

 Arleen Allen, right, owner of International  Diamond Jewelers, along with Debbie Sosa, salesperson, look forward to helping customers this holiday season.

Arleen Allen, right, owner of International Diamond Jewelers, along with Debbie Sosa, salesperson, look forward to helping customers this holiday season.


TROY — As local businesses around metro Detroit are preparing for Small Business Saturday Nov. 26, many are reporting a positive year and strong predictions for the holiday season.

Arleen Allen, the owner of International Diamond Importers in Troy, said customer service seems to have been an increasingly significant factor for customers.

“I’ve been in business for almost 40 years,” she said. “I decided to carry my business down to Troy after selling my property up in Rochester. It’s a much smaller space, but we also had renters in the other location and things are going very well in Troy. I think solid customer service is becoming more of a concern for people.”

Shelly Mazur, the manager of the Royal Oak Market, said business has been going well for the last several months and that they are preparing for a big Christmas season.

“We’re doing phenomenal. We’ve got our holiday magic marketplace on Dec. 1, which is in conjunction with the Royal Oak Christmas tree lighting,” Mazur said. “We’ve bounced back after COVID. We couldn’t do our rental events or wedding-related events, but we never closed, since we are a market. We’ve been stocked every Thursday and Friday since July.”

Carolyn Webb, the owner of the Clothes Mentor resale shop in Rochester Hills, said that she is seeing particularly strong business as a resale business.

“We’re more environmentally friendly. People are looking for more affordable and sustainable products. Since our stock is 70% below retail and more socially conscious, we have been seeing a lot of new growth in the last year — the last two months in particular,” she said.

Many businesses say they are anticipating a strong holiday gift-giving season. Mazur believes this is in part due to the difficulties in celebrating during COVID-19.

“What I’m seeing is that people missed Christmas the last couple of years. Now they’re coming out in droves,” she said. “The Christmas tree lot near us has already sold out. We’re selling a lot of centerpieces and similar items. I think people want to feel normal again. I think it’s already busy this year, and it’s only going to get busier as we get closer to Christmas.”

Allen said that local businesses might have an advantage this year since many major chains are still having supply chain problems.

“I think the season is going to be good,” said Allen. “I think it’s going to be a big year for local businesses. A lot of the larger stores can’t get their inventory due to supply chain issues. That’s the advantage of doing most of your work locally.”

This increase in optimism for local businesses may also come from a growing sentiment some have that online shopping isn’t as cheap or customer friendly as it used to be.

“The holidays are providing more foot traffic for everyone,” said Webb. “People are growing more wary of buying online with restocking fees and return shipping fees. People used to buy several sizes to see which would match them best and return them for no cost or fee; now that advantage is pretty much gone.”

Webb went on to suggest shoppers not wait to shop this year as it seems as though inventory will be a more significant concern in most cases than special deals.

“Everyone has good sales this year,” remarked Webb. “Black Friday and Cyber Monday might see some better prices, but the sales aren’t seeming to have bigger sales as they get closer to Christmas. It’s usually as good as it’s going to get early in the season when they have more of what you’re looking for in stock.”

The Small Business Association of Michigan Foundation, which analyzes the state’s economy in order to assess Michigan’s entrepreneurial climate, recently released its 18th annual entrepreneurship scorecard stating that the entrepreneurial economy continues to grow and that small businesses have been resilient in the current era.

“Though many challenges persist, it’s safe to say Michigan’s small businesses have experienced significant improvement since the pandemic began and over the last 18 years since the scorecard was developed,” SBAM President and CEO Brian Calley said in a press release. “While inflation and worker shortages are threats to the future, small business revenue trends and startup trends give reason for optimism.”   

The findings of the scorecard included that Michigan’s economy is holding up well in 2021-2022. They stated that Michigan small businesses have been outperforming those nationally since 2020 — measured in percent growth in businesses open and in business revenue — and that spending and consumption have remained strong, along with exceptionally strong state sales tax collections. They also found that new business startups have been notably robust since the second half of 2020 and the five-year establishment survival rate of small businesses has begun to inch up.

“While Michigan’s small businesses have clearly played a large role in Michigan’s economic growth, we cannot take their success for granted,” Calley wrote. “Our policy makers must be careful not to throw a wet blanket on small business success with policies that stifle new business starts with limitations on independent contractors or further exacerbate cost increases with additional government mandates.”