The fallout for small food businesses
Just when I thought my bakery was rounding the Covid corner, as if the disappearance of an abundant workforce and supply chain issues weren’t enough, there came another plague on the fragile existence of my business—predictions of a recession. And we all seem to be bracing ourselves for the impact. But these aren’t the topics weighing heavy on my mind. I have since renegotiated agreements with my purveyors in order to receive my ingredients in a timely manner and even made peace with back-ordering to accommodate loyal customers. I continue to struggle with having to turn away business at times because we don’t have enough employees to fill orders. I had thought lost revenue was the worst part of it all, but the worst part was yet to come.
Every head of household dreads not being able to feed our families, keep the heat on, and fill the gas tanks. It feels like inflation came about so quickly that there was no time to prepare.
Looking back on history, we’ve survived previous periods of inflation. Sometimes it takes a couple of years, and sometimes several more. Many companies save money by improvising with lower-quality ingredients; other businesses have kept their packaging the same size but filled it with less product. I do not approve of these cost-saving measures in my business, so for now we continue to work harder and longer, trim the fat (even though there is little to none), gently raise prices, and, by all means, keep product quality paramount.
I know I am fortunate to still be in business, and without my dedicated and loyal employees, we would not be making the best gluten-free bread anymore.
I’m proud of how far I’ve come and continue to grow as a person and as an entrepreneur. I am of the generation that played outside until the street lights came on, held flashlights in the dark, recorded music off the radio, and had really cool big hair. I identify with a strong work ethic and believe with all my heart that if we do everything we can to stay healthy and invest in local, we can weather this storm.
Hero image: VAASEENAA/iStock.
Sandwiched Between a Pandemic and Inflation originally published in the spring 2023 issue.