Local business owners share concerns with Arrington

Supply chain shortages, labor shortages; these are the things that small businesses like Terra James’ Hello Baby have struggled with in today’s economic conditions.

James raised his concerns with Congressman Jodey Arrington on July 6 when he met with local business owners for a roundtable at the Plainview Chamber of Commerce. Small business owners took the opportunity to discuss the issues and complications they faced throughout the pandemic.

Hello Baby has seen a surge in sales throughout the pandemic due to increased demand for online sales, James said. Her shop sells clothes, toys, and other items for kids, infants, and new or expectant moms.

Over the past 30 days, however, she has seen a drop in sales across the board. She expressed concerns about competition with big-box stores and the inability to offer the same type of discounts as them. James explained to the Herald that she needs to be more selective of the products she brings into her inventory so that she can stay competitive with big box stores.

“I think what you’re seeing is more consolidation between companies, and you’re seeing bigger companies getting bigger, and that makes it harder to compete at scale,” Arrington said. “They (small businesses) don’t have the size to bear economic conditions or taxes and regulations or inflationary cost, because now their expenses have increased due to inflation or shortage of labor .”

Owning a small business through the perfect storm of harsh conditions created challenges for what Arrington called the “little guys.”

The lack of federal assistance has made it harder for business owners like Jack Cruise.

During the roundtable, Cruise, owner of J. Cruise Christmas Gallery & Decor, shared her concerns.

His company specializes in custom party decorations. Cruise spoke about the lack of federal funding received due to the lack of employees. Cruise mentioned the PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) loan as an example.

The PPP loan is a federal loan created during the pandemic to help businesses continue operations such as payroll, mortgage interest, rent/lease, and utilities. The loan amount is determined based on business expenses, with a lower cap for small businesses and vice versa. The loan must be repaid unless the business qualifies for loan forgiveness.

He also later said that he had to take on unforeseen debt just to keep his business going. Cruise did not respond to a follow-up with the Herald.

Arrington sympathized with Cruise, saying small businesses like his and others are the lifeblood of the country.

Despite the challenges presented by local business owners throughout the discussion, Arrington expressed optimism for the future.
“|Small companies are more agile than large companies. They are more resourceful and in a small town they know their customers and their customers are extremely loyal to them,” he said. “They have a certain resilience that you’ll only see on Main Street and among small businesses because they’re so intimately connected to them, to their customers.”

James echoed the same sentiment, praising the Plainview community for supporting small businesses.

“We have a lot of surrounding communities who come to shop for their needs, even if it is basic necessities. We have people commuting here, so they spend their money in Plainview,” James said. “I have felt not only the support of our local government, at events that we hold downtown or within the community to try to motivate or increase participation, which provides either monetary results, either just a marketing impression, but local business owners support one. each other and marketing for each other. I really feel that our local customers are what keep everyone alive. We have the best clientele. »