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'Half of my stuff came in last week': Supply chain crisis impacts small business holiday sales

Flatlanders Ski & Snowboard
Posted at 9:54 PM, Dec 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-26 23:49:53-05

MISSION, Kan. — The first two months of the new year are the slowest months of the year for small businesses, which is why they rely on the holiday rush to help them stay afloat.

But the impact of the global pandemic continues to trickle down, and for some Kansas small businesses, the supply chain crisis got in the way of making money.

Since the late 70s, people have turned to Flatlanders Ski and Snowboard in Mission, Kansas, to get their winter sports fix. However, this season, shoppers were greeted with empty shelves and racks.

“This year has been worse than last year, just because of the shipping,” said owner Aileen Chellis. “A lot of times we’re waiting, still waiting for product to arrive — should’ve been here in September, it’s now December. So a lot of product isn’t here yet.”

It’s a devastating blow to their business which closes during the summer months.

“We had lots of people looking early in the season like we always do in October, but we had no product,” Chellis said. “I mean half of my stuff came in last week — four days before Christmas, 25 boxes came — and it was too late.”

The Kansas Small Business Development Center estimates about 40% of small business sales happen during the holiday season. The revenue is then used to help businesses survive the slow start of the new year.

In a recent survey conducted by American Express, 78% of businesses who replied said this year’s holiday sales will determine whether they will be open in 2022.

“Holiday sales are enormously important for paying our bills and providing that cushion we need for the spring,” said Susie Pryor, associate state director for KSBDC.

KSBDC adds that many small business owners continue to spend money in adapting to the pandemic. Last year, KSBDC said its small business clients secured $68 million in capital infusion.

And while clients used that money to fund their businesses and grow, sales weren’t the same.

“We saw across the board not an increase in sales, and we didn’t see a lot of new starts [ups in] 2020 and 2021,” Pryor said.

Flatlanders' repair shop is helping with business, but if they’re unable to get their product in time next year, their future could be on the line.

“You don’t ski or snowboard in the summertime, so we have that very small window, that’s it,” Chellis said. “So if you don’t make it in those four to five months, you’re in trouble.”