Mayor: Buying local has never been more important for small businesses

Published 2:40 pm Friday, November 25, 2022

By AnaClare Barras

Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter is encouraging people to shop local this holiday season.

For the third year in a row, the city of Lake Charles announced the #ShopLocalLC challenge, which invites shoppers to patronize at least four local merchants and post a picture with their purchase on social media with the hashtag, #ShopLocalLC.

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“We first issued this challenge in 2020 as a fun way to help bolster our small business community in the midst of very difficult times,” Hunter said. “Although we have come leaps and bounds since then, our small, locally-owned business community still needs our support. These businesses make up the economic backbone of our community and give our city its unique character and distinctiveness.”

This year, more than ever, it’s vital to shop locally. Like most businesses struggling in the current state of the economy, local businesses are especially hard-pressed to stay afloat.

“It’s hard to deny,” said Marlana Billedeaux, owner of Lunar Lana Art. “Even in my busiest time of the year, sales are at an all-time low.”

Billedeaux, who’s been crafting unique handmade jewelry for years, has seen roughly a 50 percent decrease in sales from last year. With two young boys at home to raise, Billedeaux said she decided to downsize her business and shift her primary focus to finishing her degree.

“I’ve had to make new life plans to keep afloat financially,” said Billedeaux.

Many local business owners face these same challenges.

Daneisha Davis-Harger, a digital illustrator and owner of local business Pixel & Ink Creative, can relate to Billedeaux.

“Every business has had some kind of struggle in the last few years,” said Davis-Harger. “From supply chain issues to never recovering to the pandemic. Running a business has never been easy, but lately it’s been even more difficult.”

In 2020, Amazon reported an annual revenue of $386 billion. In 2022, Amazon’s revenue, for the 12 months ending Sept. 30, 2022, was $502 billion. That is a 30 percent increase.

Meanwhile, local business owners can’t catch a break.

The National Federation of Independent Business reported a 91.3 for the Small Business Optimism Index in October, marking the 10th consecutive month below the 49-year average of 98.

“No one at Amazon cares that you just bought the perfect gift for your Great Aunt Josephine, but you know who would? The ceramic artist who sits down at a wheel every day throwing bowls and mugs. The boutique owner hoping they are doing enough because maybe this year might be the last year before they have to close up shop and lay off their employees. Local businesses employ your friends and families and neighbors. Local businesses are the people you turn to when you need donations for your gift baskets and silent auctions. Amazon is convenient, but Amazon wasn’t a sponsor for Spring Art Walk or Chuck Fest or Smoke & Barrel or your kid’s sports team,” Davis-Harger said.