Buying local at small businesses this holiday season

Nearly a decade ago, my husband and I began experimenting with cidermaking as a hobby, scouring local farmer’s markets for best-in-class apples to ferment. We never intended to start a small business, but through trial and error, we eventually landed on a style we loved and started Haykin Family Cider.

However, like many other owners of Colorado’s approximately 653,000 small businesses, the past few years have not been easy for our Aurora cidery. Supply chain issues and high inflation continue to pose new challenges, with prices in the Denver-Aurora-Lakewood area up 7.7% year over year. In fact, a recent report from small business network Alignable found that 66% of small businesses in Colorado believe they are already in a recession and 28% believe they are in a depression.

As small businesses look to keep prices low to remain competitive, it is critical that Denver-area residents challenge themselves to shop local when they can – especially this upcoming holiday season. Doing so not only helps support struggling small businesses in the area, but it is also critical to taking the pressure off of already strained supply chains.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Haykin Family Cidery was only two years old. Although the company was not as severely impacted as some restaurants and entertainment venues, inflation and supply chain challenges began to make it increasingly difficult to purchase apples, pay our HOA fees, and ship our bottling supplies to Colorado.

But instead of sacrificing the quality of our ingredients to make up for higher fees, we found creative ways to cut costs and streamline our operations. We started buying in bulk and leaning on financial technology – a payments platform called Melio – to minimize late payment and wire transfer fees.

The high-quality apples we use to create our ciders are what make Haykin Family Cidery unique. Despite the rising cost of apples, we continue to use two ingredients – apple and yeast – and we refuse to betray our customers’ trust and compromise on our ingredients.

Still, it can be difficult to compete with grocery stores selling lower-cost products. We pay a fair price for our apples, and we never try to undercut our orchardists, many of which are based in Colorado, but all are family-owned businesses. Ultimately, we know that our product is a partnership between the grower and the cidermaker.

Haykin Family Cider is not alone. Across Colorado, there are many small businesses in the cider, beer, wine, and spirits sector that are struggling to compete with larger, household names.

Small businesses are essential to Colorado’s economy, creating high-quality jobs that employ nearly half of the state’s workforce. They also constitute 99.5 percent of Colorado businesses according to the Small Business Administration’s latest data.

If you have a choice between supporting a local small business and purchasing a product from a large online retailer, I encourage you to choose the option that will help fuel the local economy (many small businesses have online stores). According to the Colorado Office of Economic Development and Trade, 70% of spending stays in the local economy when you shop local compared to 40% when shopping non-locally.

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