Happy New Community of supporters and makers!
Along with everyone else in retail I'm thinking "What the hell was that"?
That is one of the most chaotic Holiday shopping seasons I've been a part of. I was quite disappointed going into Nov seeing lower than average sales. I know many people in similar small businesses were feeling that sting.
In every case where there is a less than favourable season we'll find anything to blame it on and most people I've spoken to will blame it on the economy of shoppers spending less and worried of finances. This is simply not true. If you look at any consumer report locally or nationally you'll see that people spend more! The important thing to note is where they spent it. More money went back into shopping centres and big box stores. This is really not surprising to me. 

I was reading an article earlier in 2022 that talked about how current consumers are the most hypocritical consumer to ever exist. In one moment we care deeply about the conditions of overworked people and children in foreign countries and in the next moment we're buying off of Amazon, SHEIN, and ALI express. 
OR, we're buying "Curated" items and feigning ignorance to their origins. 
I'm not judging anyone for what they buy, I'm no saint in where I put my dollars. I'm very easily marketed to for impulse shopping. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't. 

Disappointingly, supporting small businesses no longer has the desperate call to action movement it had during the pandemic. When we were all at home, all connected by this bigger world event, we were a lot more aware of our local economies struggles. The big event of the decade was happening in our own communities. We were the news. So stories of stores struggling, families in our community having a hard time getting through bill payments for their shops and small businesses were flooding our local media platforms. No one was paying the media to advertise and they didn't need to work hard for click bait because they would look like community rock stars when they shared about people struggling and how to help. 
We felt a sense of duty to our community to support these small shops. To do curb side, to meet in parking lots, to get a hair cut in someones kitchen (Shut up, you all did it lol) Of course these were all self serving acts but we could use the excuse of helping someone out to justify it. 
We did lives on instagram and featured businesses in our shop in an attempt to support them but to also support ourselves. I remember getting harassed by a member in our community because we were working our ASSES off to keep our heads above water. Jealous that their families business sat unopened during lockdown and in their own misery tried to bring us down too. Branded selfish because we couldn't sit at home and watch our business with dozens of small businesses inside of it crumble. This is like when your older generation parents tell you that because they suffered you should too lol. The only thing that bothered me in that entire situation after finding out who that person actually was, was when she said "everyones talking about you". I found it very interesting that people were talking about us, without us. Maybe she felt like some harmonious leader to pass along the info but all she did was actually act like an abusive asshole and try to gaslight us. The best part is the ignorance since then. Like, how dare us have apprehensive feelings toward these people. The lack of accountability in the 40+ year olds these days is incredible. The level of gaslighting that's come from members in our community towards us has been almost comical. When people see you working hard, they really don't like it for some reason.
We had some of our best sales days without even being open to the public. People were so incredible to be supporting us. To be fair people were SO BORED at home and a curb side pick up was the highlight for a lot of peoples days.
The generation that didn't find it easy to be online found their way. Online shopping and e-commerce stores went wild. 
Now that the stay at home part of the pandemic is over, the world is loud again. Our focus is no longer on our local economies but towards world events. Our sense of duty shifted. We're all still struggling but in our own ways. We aren't all connected by the same global experience. We're more comfortable going to the mall, and shopping centres. We're still very used to online shopping, it's SO convenient! 
Businesses like ours are trying really hard to be more online because we recognize that's where consumers are more easily marketed to. The hard part is finding the time to shift your marketing to that platform and still run an in person business. Without the budget for staffing, one person wears the hat of 10+ job positions. We are just as convenient as anyone else for online shopping, the difference is that I don't email you 3 times a day and send you text messages. Gap Inc can do that but if I did, you'd be annoyed. 
Another thing that's wild to me. You'd never email Walmart and say "UNSUBSCRIBE, THIS IS ANNOYING" but you'll dead ass email us and say, I don't want your newsletter, unsubscribe thanks. Ma'am, I don't need to know you don't like us- you can unsubscribe at the bottom of our email. 

I am hoping to have more of an online presence for our shop and pull back on the amount of work I would do in store. I'm hoping that by changing our shop module to a service based module that businesses in our community start taking responsibility for their own success and recognize that we are a facility and we provide a service but that isn't free and our time is valuable.  
Tying this into my original point- The hypocritical consumer needs chaotic marketing. Integrating entertainment into our marketing increases the sense of value the consumer takes away from us. Our marketing might not always bring in sales but we aren't only targeting sales. We are building our community and hopefully trust from our community. So when we do have heavier sales marketing, our community understands it and see the value in what we're selling. 
Conversion is seeing the work we put in pay off. Whether that is from sales or through connection with people, conversion is our focus along side with intention. 
Purposeful intent behind everything we do this year will hopefully bring us closer to the goals I have for this Brand. 
Thank you for your time.
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