Lowcountry small business owners encourage shoppers to buy local this holiday season

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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – The best shopping weekend of the year is just a few days away and local small businesses are looking for a big boost on Small Business Saturday.

The COVID-19 pandemic took a heavy toll on many local shops. Some are still catching up from pandemic shutdowns and others say business is booming.

“I’d say over the course of the last six months, it’s been busier than we’ve ever been in our whole career,” said Gary Flynn, a partner, and CEO of M. Dumas and Sons on King Street in Downtown Charleston.

He says the pandemic threatened the survival of the shop that has been in business for over 100 years.

As for Brackish in West Ashley, co-founder Jeff Plotner says 2021 has been a good year overall.

“We started to see it at the end of last year, that renewed demand,” said Plotner.

Even with the cash rolling in for some small businesses, other challenges still face the shops. Most of them stem from the supply chain bottleneck. Plotner says certain products they use, like the wooden boxes they package their handmade bowties and earrings in, come from overseas.

“It’s just something that we’ve had to plan ahead for with our purchasing and inventory teams,” said Plotner.

Over at M. Dumas and Sons, certain brands are having more issues than others depending on their country of origin.

A report from business.org shows over 80% of businesses have had to raise their prices this year to combat inflation. We asked if the findings of the report reflected changes within Brackish or M. Dumas and Sons.

“We will hold our prices as long as the prices that we’re being charged are being held,” explained Flynn. “There will be some increases though. I’m seeing it more for spring than I’m seeing for this season, but for future orders, I’m seeing that supply chain really having a hard time catching up.”

“I think it’s always something that’s in the conversation and we are actually looking at that right now,” said Plotner.

Both owners, as well as many others in the Lowcountry and encouraging people to shop local this holiday season and all year round.

“Being in a small business, being a part owner, doing everything ourselves, the blood sweat, and tears are here and they’re all people that live in your community. It’s a wonderful thing to be able to support the community,” said Flynn.

“Local businesses are the fiber of the community. You think about Charleston, South Carolina, and every other town for that matter, they have their own original differences and things that make them unique and give them their own character and such a big part of that is the local businesses,” said Plotner.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, Americans spent nearly $20 billion on Small Business Saturday last year. The National Retail Federation says holiday shopping this year has the potential to shatter previous records.

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