Everyone knows retailers depend on certain holidays or seasons to make their revenues for the year. With the economy in dire straits, people are looking for ways to make ends meet however and wherever they can. We just had a major holiday for florists. They buy extra product ahead of time expecting their typical Valentines Day business. This year, all the florists in town were left with unsold product and fewer sales than normal. So? you say. Everyone is hurting. What’s so different about the florists unexpected slump? There was a news segment covering this topic. Apparently, our city was inundated with corner street vendors. You know the type…park your car at an available curb or corner of a parking lot, set up a table and sell your gifts baskets and vases of flowers. The problem with this is, the retail florists have regulations and various protocols to follow as well as overhead to stay in business. Sour grapes? Not really.
I’ve been in the cake business since 1980. We have a similar problem in our area. To be a baker, you have overhead, employee salaries etc. We also have to follow stringent health department rules and regulations to follow to keep the public safe. Rules of cleanliness, and food handling rules all help to guarantee that our product is actually safe for human consumption. No one cares if Aunt Sally bakes cakes for all the family, but when you have people coming in week after week buying 15-20 boards and boxes for cakes, you realize they have set up a side business for themselves. In Texas there used to be rules regulating home businesses, such as separate kitchens and utensils from those of the family. Now, there is a new law governing “Cottage Industries”. There is no longer any regulations required for home cake businesses. No one to stress cleanliness, or the necessity of wearing a hair net, or making sure the family pet isn’t shaking a stray hair into someones’ cake.
Nationwide, all bakeries and cake shops have a reduction in business in the last couple of years. Some of it is because when people need to cut back, they won’t buy the luxury items, they’ll bake their own cookies and cupcakes. But seeing home decorators setting up shop as a side business without having the overhead or worrying about the health department guidelines is irritating and disturbing. Sour grapes again? Somewhat. All retailers depend on their customers to stay in business and bakeries are no different from the florists in that regard.
We all tend to complain when big super centers come into town and put the ‘little guys’ out of business. The same thing can happen to the florists and the bakeries when we have to compete with unlicensed street vendors or Cottage Industry decorators. If enough of them decide to go into business for themselves to make extra money, some of the retailers might have to let employees go or even close their doors. This just might be an example of “trickle down economics”. There is always a ripple effect to everything. All of us can recognize that our economy is in bad shape. We just don’t know how it can ever be fixed. I just know it has to get better soon.