Local companies see surge in Black Friday business amid supply chain problems

Nov 26, 2021, 8:05 PM

SALT LAKE CITY — A new survey by Lending Tree shows nearly half of all consumers will shop at small, locally-owned businesses this weekend and spend an average of $305 per person.

That’s good news for small businesses that struggled at the onset of the shutdown.

However, many Utah business owners say business has been booming for months.

That could be, in part, because nearly two-thirds of Americans in that same survey said they are more loyal to small businesses now than they were before the pandemic started.

In the highly popular shopping center at 9th and 9th in Salt Lake City, Diane Etherington, owner of The Children’s Hour, says business is great after a tough shutdown.

“We feel like we have a whole new crew, as well as the old crew, that has come back, so it’s been great,” she said.

Etherington opened the shop 38 years ago, and has been on the corner of 900 East and 900 South for 17 years.

She said supply chain and shortages haven’t impacted her because she keeps a lot of stock on hand. So, now that people are back to shopping in stores, holiday shopping looks promising.

At Albion Fit’s warehouse, the mostly women-owned and operated business, is shipping thousands of packages a day.

The company sells high-end leisure and swim wear.

“Lucky for us, leisure wear is just what exploded in 2019 and 2020, so we were very, very fortunate,” said co-founder Liz Findlay.

The company has also avoided most of the highly publicized supply problems by having a vertical business plan. That means they create everything here in Utah at a factory they own and operate.

Additionally, Findlay made an out-of-character purchase months before the shutdown — fabric.

That chance decision became a huge advantage.

While other companies struggled, Albion was poised to thrive, and they have.

“We’ve tripled and then tripled again,” Findlay said of sales over the past two years. “It’s pretty exciting.”

Findlay and her husband and co-founder are big advocates of a “shop local” mindset, and believe Utah companies make it easy.

“You can get everything your heart could possibly desire in Utah,” said Findlay. “If you want furniture, there’s a store here. Décor, barbecues, fitness wear, outerwear, it’s all here.”

And Findlay knows how much that benefits Utah.

“When you shop locally, all of those tax dollars stay here in our community,” she said.

As Etherington watches shoppers this Black Friday, she remembers why she has always loved her store.

“I’m filled with gratitude for lovely people that make our lives here so happy, and talking to them all day long — what a dream job,” said Etherington. “It’s just the best.”

The Retail Trade Federation said 58.1 million people plan to shop Saturday.

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Local companies see surge in Black Friday business amid supply chain problems