As a small business owner I felt really anxious in the lead up to today’s Black Friday sales. Not so much because I couldn't decide weather to join the mass of businesses taking part in the sale - for me the decision not to participate was an easy choice and one I made well before I even open the store. The anxious feeling was more to do with how not participating would affect my business. Would it be a slow day because everyone is off grabbing a "bargain" else where? Would potential customers go direct to the brands I carry in order to purchase items that they've seen and tried on in my store at a discounted rate?
Don't get me wrong, I understand the need for sales every now and then, and why so many business participate. It helps move old inventory, it's a great marketing tool etc., but the fact is that for small businesses, sales and discounts have a negative impact from the business on down.
I'm not dissing discounts, I offer discount codes every now and then - and I will be in the lead up to the festive season, because at the end of the day I need move stock - but the FOMO inducing craze that surrounds Black Friday results in myriad of problems - unnecessary consumption, over spending, etc. - that negatively impacts the economy. It creates a sale society, a culture of looking for, or waiting on, the next deal before shopping.
It's true what they say about a small business doing a happy dance every time they have a sale/order. I literally have a huge grin on my face for at least 5mins after a customer leaves with a well made item from the shop. To me, it means that I'm a little closer to getting an invoice paid, or a little closer to affording rent at the end of the month. So you can only image my internal feelings when I get people asking me to discount things, or bartering with me (yep that actually happens in retail), and it makes me rather sad to hear passing comments about how "beautiful, but over priced" the items I stock are. The items are not over priced, they are actually what items should cost. They are what an item should cost when a fabric is made using fibres that don't harm the earth or the people who make it. They are the cost they should be for a seamstress to get paid a fair wage, for a brand to continue producing in an ethical and sustainable manner. They are the price they should be for a retailer to be able to continue to provide beautiful and well made items and still be able to pay shop rent, invoices and bills! The fact of the matter is that I don't have huge markups on the items I sell. I stick to the lowest recommended retail price of x2, so discounting items means that it cuts into that margin. That margin isn't there to for me to make bucket loads of money. It's there so I can run a successful business, pay suppliers, rent etc., and hopefully one day actually pay myself a wage. So this Black Friday weekend, and leading into the festive season, I encourage you to buy with purpose.