RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) — A week out from Black Friday, small businesses are preparing for the annual holiday sales rush.
For small businesses Art by SRG and Needle & Thread Co., it will be the first time they experience it in a brick-and-mortar location.
“I started to face an issue with people wanting to come back to shop, and I’m selling on the street for four hours, six hours at a time. There wasn’t really like a place to come back to,” said Art by SRG owner Sarah Rosa Glickman.
“People always asked me, ‘Well, when are you coming back? When are you coming back? When are you coming back? Do you have a shop,” noted Needle & Thread Co. owner Derrick Grant, who offers custom apparel.
Both recently moved to Pop Up Shops at Martin Street, participating in a program for women and minority-owned businesses, in which they receive guidance and temporary retail space. They will operate out of the downtown location for a year.
“There’s so much foot traffic, whether it’s people going on their lunch breaks or people visiting and they’re heading to the airport from the airport or whatever it might be. And then just so much diversity in who’s coming in to chat,” said Glickman.
“(Customers) can take their time. They can look at everything, they can talk. We can have conversation that has really built a foundation for what I’m doing right now. Then with that, the out-of-towners, they come. We’ve met people from all over the country in this small month,” said Grant.
Their enthusiasm is matched by a recent study by LendingTree, which listed Raleigh as the best metro in the country to start a small business. The company gave the city’s business climate, education levels, relative affordability, and start-up success high marks.
“As I traveled to the city with events like Brewgaloo, with Hopscotch, the audience for my brand really was a fit here. So it was a no-brainer,” Grant said.
“We’re already getting to know our neighbors, other businesses, and people who have other small businesses are coming in here and touching base with us. ‘Hey, like we’re right up the street, let’s connect. Let’s help each other, promote each other,’ things like that. I knew that it was a really good art and small business community here. And I wanted to tap into that as well,” added Glickman.
The National Retail Federation is forecasting holiday sales will grow between 3-4% this year, a rate similar to pre-pandemic levels. Both are hoping to capitalize off big events drawing large crowds, including Friday night’s Tree Lighting ceremony and Saturday’s ABC 11 Raleigh Christmas Parade presented by Shop Local Raleigh.
Both businesses are working with Consult Your Community at NC State, a student-run nonprofit, to help find talent to join their teams. Hiring challenges have persisted, especially for small businesses, as unemployment rates remain low.
However, new jobless claims data shows the job market may be softening. Last week, there were 231,000 initial jobless claims, the highest since August, and 1.865 million continuing claims, the most since November 2021.
“The compensation numbers are evening out a little bit. Inflation, of course, has come down a lot and compensation increases have come down, too,” said NC State Economics Professor Steven Allen.
Though Allen cautions against reading too much into one report, he did say there are several factors that the Federal Reserve considers regarding interest rates.
“Based on what’s going on right now, I think the odds of an actual recession seem pretty low. I would say, if anything, the odds of some modest decreases in interest rates in the coming year are starting to look pretty good. And that’ll be good for the stock market as well. People will start getting out of bonds and back into the market so there are some reasons to be optimistic,” Allen said.