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Downtown Lee's Summit business moves away from brick-and-mortar to online model to cope with high costs

Lee's Summit business switches to online model
Posted at 10:43 AM, Apr 11, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-11 16:05:21-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It's notoriously hard to run a small business — especially over the last year with inflation and high food and supply costs.

It's driven one downtown Lee's Summit business, the Downtown Deli & Market by Flavor, out of its brick-and-mortar location and into an exclusively-online model.

"We're moving out now but at one time this was a full gourmet kitchen," owner Amy Williamson said as she pointed to a countertop full of soon-to-be-sold equipment. "We ultimately said no matter what we do, this, from a brick-and-mortar perspective, is not going to work."

As she walked through the bare bones of her dream — a once-flourishing specialty spice and oil retailer and sandwich shop — she explained the costs to run just grew too high despite good business.

Lee's Summit Flavor

"[People] were shocked because we were doing so good. Last year we were a downtown Lee's Summit business of the year. That doesn't change the bottom dollar, does it?" she said.

To cut down on overheads, she's saying goodbye to the shop and reforming as an online retailer and catering business.

"We keep telling people, because people come in and they go, 'We're so sorry you're going out of business.' I say, 'We're not going out of business, we're just going to serve you differently,'" Williamson said.

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The economic trendlines of the business look like a rollercoaster; down in the pandemic, then back up when everyone pushed to buy local, then back down again when inflation made wallets feel a little lighter.

Her story serves as the perfect slice of a larger trend in US small business: a re-emphasis on online.

"You know I'm like the little engine that could. I'm not giving up. The dream is still there and I still see it," she said. "I'm still doing it. I'm just moving to the next thing."

You can access the shop's online order form HERE.