Global supply chain crunch may give local vendors a badly needed boost on Black Friday

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This time last year, Winnipeg-based entrepreneur Obi Khan launched, an online portal that allows shoppers to browse a variety of products and services from local businesses, bundle them together, and share them with their customers. is delivered at the door.

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The initiative has been so successful that it is taking the concept into the brick-and-mortar world of retail this season, opening a physical store in Winnipeg’s Exchange District.

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“The timing is perfect, with the Christmas holiday season just around the corner,” he said.

Khan’s sales pitch and motivation at launch was simple: People want to support local businesses whenever possible, so let’s do it as often as possible, at a time when they need it most.

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The nearly $1 million in sales of Khan’s obsessive project since launch was a welcome lifeline for local businesses that needed it. But along the way, Khan says the initiative has uncovered an unexpected secret weapon that local firms had—perhaps without knowing it: They buy local ones, too.

Supply chain issues due to COVID-19 have closed the markets for everything Toilet paper To semiconductors And wood, But Khan says that most of the local businesses he works with have managed to do things their own way, as they use locally sourced supplies themselves.

Buying early is still encouraged

“The beauty about local support is that the supply chain isn’t a big factor for us. A lot of these vendors are getting their products locally. They’re handcrafting them. They’re buying in small quantities, ” They said. “Everyone is talking about supply chains and problems and bringing products overseas. We don’t need all those products.”

Online sales marketplace Etsy, which works primarily with small businesses to help them sell their products beyond their local markets, has specifically detected the same trend led by Black Friday.

“Our vendors are also well positioned during this busy time, when many big box retailers are facing supply chain disruptions, as many of them do not rely on major manufacturing,” said Etsy’s trend expert. Dayana Isom Johnson said.

Because of this, there are still some holiday season deals to be found, Johnson said, adding that he’s seen discounts of up to 60 percent off some Etsy sellers.

However, this does not mean that it is business as usual. The site has lengthened its seasonal sales schedule by three days this year, it said, “to meet seasonal buyer demand and encourage shoppers to start their holiday shopping early.”

Although it considers itself a proud local Canadian business, Montreal-based lingerie chain La Vie En Rose says it hasn’t been immune to the supply-chain shortfalls that its much larger rivals have felt acutely.

At the start of the pandemic, demand for swimwear fell and never really recovered, said Myrna Safori, the chain’s vice president of marketing. But that was offset by increased sales of loungewear, and now the retailer is seeing a boom in bras and lingerie again.

While it’s great to see a jump in demand, it presents its own set of problems.

“We are very proud to be a Canadian company and design everything in-house… [but those designs] “Produce is done offshore. We are facing some supply chain challenges as many retailers as we ramp up for the holidays,” Saffori said.

Typically at this time of year, La Vie en Rose would have already shipped its entire seasonal stock – about 150 containers of cargo – and it would have arrived by October. But the supply chain crunch is so acute that 18 containers have yet to arrive, meaning the chain has about 12 percent less to sell now.

There are no empty shelves yet, but Saffoury said the squeeze means the retailer has definitely changed its sales strategy. Instead of doorcrasher deals for Black Friday, they’re focusing on making sure customers have an ample selection of goods to choose from.

“We’ve been promoting less over the past few months, and we’ve been selling a lot of regular price as a way to control inventory levels,” she said.

Typically, the chain can launch additional deals on Cyber ​​Monday, when seasonal promotions go online. But they will not do so this year as well, because of their inventory crunch.

“We don’t want people coming here and looking at empty shelves. If that means selling more at the regular price, I think that’s the strategy,” Safoori said.

buy local movement is leg

Back in Winnipeg, Khan said he won’t spend much time worrying about empty shelves this weekend, as ensuring sustainability is important to him over the long term. He says he’s always hated Black Friday — and that fact encourages people to “spend money on things they don’t need.”

“It’s day one,” he said. “It doesn’t really help these small businesses. … We need to be careful about these businesses and support them year-round.”

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