Small businesses are wary but anticipate strong holiday season

By: Brendan Losinski | Fraser-Clinton Chronicle | Published November 21, 2022

 Many small businesses say that a lack of good customer service and supply chain issues are causing customers to turn away from buying online and at major chains this year.

Many small businesses say that a lack of good customer service and supply chain issues are causing customers to turn away from buying online and at major chains this year.

Photo provided by Rosemarie Baldwin


CLINTON TOWNSHIP — As local businesses around Metro Detroit are preparing for Small Business Saturday on Nov. 25, many are reporting a positive year and strong predictions for the holiday season. That’s despite recent hardships and the continuing difficulties related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kelley Lobati, the CEO of the Macomb County Chamber of Commerce, said that the Macomb County community is hoping for a strong December and that she hopes to aid that with some promotions celebrating Small Business Saturday.

“Small Business Saturday is a really great event we take part in every year so we can support local small businesses,” said Lobati. “I think people are supporting this day more and more each year. We are working with the Macomb County Planning and Economic Department (department) to do a shop local campaign with them. It runs from Nov. 17 to Dec. 4. It is a contest where, when people go out and shop, they can take a picture of the business they are at. When they submit the photo, they get entered into a drawing for 10 $150 gift cards donated by First State Bank. The businesses in the selected photos also are entered into a contest to win a $1,000 grant, as well.”

Entries can be submitted at

Lobati added that, despite struggling with factors such as staff shortages, most local businesses are expecting a fruitful holiday season.

“Many people shop online now, which can impact small businesses,” she said. “We try to direct people to support these local businesses. Many are still struggling to keep a full staff, but they are still seeing good business. … We want to support these local businesses that have struggled in recent years.”

Rosemarie Baldwin, the owner of Consign Couture in Clinton Township, said she was optimistic heading into December.

“I’m expecting a very good holiday season,” she said. “Consumers are confident — they want to celebrate and be with their families. I think consumers are very happy. I created a store that people enjoy shopping at, and they are happy to sell unique products. They like small store specialties and independence. They feel like they know someone when they are shopping. They’re not standing in line for an hour at Marshall’s; they are talking to friends. I sell a lot of entertainment gifts like charcuterie boards and accessories, candles and home decor.”

Baldwin said her positive attitude is partially due to her seeing customer service and a friendly atmosphere becoming a more significant factor for people when deciding where they shop.

“I think supporting your community and your relationships with local stores is getting more important to people,” she said. “They like supporting local businesses and are proud of that.”

While most businesses are expecting a strong holiday season, some retailers are less optimistic. Various issues can affect that outlook.

“I am expecting an average Christmas season,” said Sandy Wowk, the owner of Ati’s Jewelry in Clinton Township. “I don’t have the traffic like I used to have. I have old-fashioned layaway, and I am doing some custom work for a handful of people. I have a lot of retail in here, but I am wholesale, but the plaza I’m in looks like a slum. The landlord won’t fix the marquee. There are vacancies in the neighboring business spaces.”

She said she is leaning more and more on her repeat customers and loyal customer base.

“Times have changed a lot,” said Wowk. “I have been here 22 years. I make very little profit. I am trying to stay alive here. People are not buying like they used to. A lot of my customers have moved or passed away. This is the first year since COVID I am going to have one of my annual ‘thank you’ parties at Christmas. I want to thank those who have supported me the last 22 years, despite a robbery, a fire and the passing of my husband. It’s been very difficult, but my customers keep me above water.”

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 post-COVID 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 scorecard included findings stating that Michigan’s economy is holding up well in 2021-2022. The SBAM 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.”