Maine businesses encourage shopping small this holiday season

Published: Nov. 23, 2021 at 6:22 PM EST
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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - While many local businesses are experiencing the same shipping and supply delays as retailers all across the country, many are making the best of the situation.

From local grocery stores like Tiller and Rye to shops in downtown Ellsworth, business owners are curating their stock to meet the needs of the community.

Those same owners say this year, shopping local could be your best bet.

“We’re a global economy, and we need to stay that way, and we need to stay friends with everyone, but our neighbors, our family right now, they can really use some extra money in their pocket,” said Sarah Morneault, Tiller and Rye.

While it’s nearly impossible for small businesses to avoid the inevitable, Morneault says there are many positives in keeping your money local.

She says sourcing things from local farmers means shorter shipping times and better quality.

“One thing you know we’re seeing our local ground beef stay the same price, and we’re seeing the cost of other ground beef soar. Local chicken is always going to be a bit more expensive, but there’s a reason for it, and there’s quality behind it,” said Morneault.

As more and more people start preparing for the holidays early this year, Steve Cunningham says it’s reassuring as people move back to pre-pandemic traditions.

“Small businesses really like their customers, they want to take care of you, they are going to work hard to make you happy and get you what you need,” said Cunningham, Husson University economics professor.

Stores like Bliss and Trio in Ellsworth sell handmade jewelry, soaps, and candles, among other things.

Susan Nordman says aside from delays with oils and glass jars, they were prepared for the holiday season.

“We’ve carefully curated, we have our stock in. We’re not as pressure driven, I think to some of the inflationary costs, I think you’ll find that for the most part, your smaller businesses are going to eat some of that inflationary cost and not pass it on until it’s absolutely necessary to the customer,” said Nordman, Bliss co-owner.

Cunningham says right now, it’s important to spend your dollars locally to keep them within the state.

“What you really want is that you want those dollars coming in. You certainly don’t want to lose dollars to other places when dollars come in because they’re going to support the local economy. And, it’s going to also affect tax revenues and other issues, so it has really wide repercussions throughout the state,” said Cunningham.

Throughout the pandemic and all the unforeseen circumstances, business owners tell me the one thing that remains constant is the community’s unwavering support.

“The whole idea of how important it is to support local businesses, I think it’s really resonating with people,” said Leslie Harlow, Trio part owner.

Trio donates 10% of their sales to the Grand in Ellsworth.

Harlow says this partnership really embodies everyone doing their part.

“I think the future for downtown Ellsworth is to be more inclusive for us understanding the value of those visitors that come to our area, but also holding on to our own ethos, which is we are local, we are real, and we’re not going anywhere,” said Harlow.

Many of the Ellsworth shops are participating in the Christmas pickle event.

Stores and restaurants have a hidden pickle ornament and will be open Thursday evenings for folks to come shop and try to find it.

Prizes and gifts will be given out if you’re the lucky winner.

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