Letter to the Editor: Shopping Local


Dear Editor,

Kenny Roger’s sang, “You got to know when to hold’em, know when to fold’em, know when to walk away, know when to run,” in an old favorite, “The Gambler.” Growing up, I sang those lyrics right along with my mother very loud in the kitchen or wherever we may be, so I know the lyrics well. I never thought they would be applicable to me, but they are. The reason being I am at that point where I need to decide what to “gamble” on.  

For many years (more than I care to admit), I have read and participated in the plea for our small town to bring in new businesses. Whether it was a rec center for families, a jump place, our favorite restaurants/fast food establishments, more places to shop, and just about anything else that came to one’s mind, I was there in agreement that, “There isn’t anything to do here!” But, I feel very differently about that now. Get a drink, sit down and put your feet up because this is a long one if you read on! Please, no fiery darts… I’m already on fire and trying to put out the flames!

As many of you know, our family moved three years ago to Carlsbad, NM after living our entire lives in Carbon and Emery County. We were transferred for my husband’s work. At the time, we had only owned our store, Buds and Blooms/Edgy Bling, for one year…exactly. I was asked over and over what I was going to do with the store. My answer was always the same…I would leave it, as long as it was doing well or at least self sustaining. After all, Main Street needed it…Price needed it…I needed it!!

This was in 2020 and coming out of COVID. I didn’t worry much about everything going back to normal. Boy, was I in for a rude awakening along with everyone else. Prior to this, I tried as often as I could to have two employees on a shift. Fast forward a few years and we hardly need one. We went from a  couple years of crazy holiday seasons (even in 2020) to asking employees if they want to go home since there is not enough business, not just in our store, but anywhere. There aren’t cars parked along the streets or filling up the parking lots (except maybe at the grocery stores), or people walking down the sidewalks window shopping.

We all know that the economy is struggling. We have to decide between wants and needs, we have to cut back, weigh our spending, and focus on what is important both as individuals and families. Which in turn makes brick and mortar stores have to change. That is not all bad, as we all need to change with the times and think outside the box. I believe this is true for all of us, even as a business owner. Today, I’m coming mostly from a business angle. My purpose is to express myself and hopefully get us all thinking forward. It contains my opinion and also some hard facts for me. 

The products we have carried since 2020 cost more, as does the shipping to get them to us. I have thought a lot about the shoppers that come through our door. We have our regulars that love to come in (for which I am so grateful). We have our emergency shoppers (thank goodness), and we have our, “Wow, I haven’t ever been in before…didn’t know we could get this here!” customers (yep, still thankful!). Maybe there is a fourth category; some shop only on special occasions such as birthdays, Mother’s/Father’s Day, or Christmas. Maybe on a Saturday when nothing else is going on. Maybe if the weather is nice out, not too hot and not too cold. That is, if I haven’t offended them by not having what they want in their size, having too short of shorts or too long of skirts, or not carrying their personal style. Unfortunately, It isn’t enough. It doesn’t even pay the bills, let alone buy new stock. If you have been expecting many more new arrivals and seeing more of the same this past year, well, you have to sell what you have in order to buy more and many of the new things you see came from our personal wallet.  

Over the years, we have upped our efforts on social media, tried to advertise at the theater and kept the radio’s advertising. But, slowly my small business had a hard time supporting their small business. It is a circular chain reaction. When someone steps out, everyone has to reassess and get the circle going again. It takes much longer and includes more than any of us even realize.

Admission: I cringe a little every time someone apologizes for us helping them last minute because they “just never could make it up north to the stores”… really? OUCH, that hurts! During one of those times, I was feeling the pressure, and my frustration led to my daughter posting that “Shopping local should be our first opportunity, not our last option.” I love it! You may see me sporting it on a t-shirt the next time you see me! 

I recently asked in a survey where customers like to shop and gave many choices. The good news was they like all of our small businesses as well as big businesses (AKA Walmart, and online…AKA Amazon), The prices, selection, and environment all play a big part in where they go. They love us all! Go hometown businesses and big corporations! You go, girl! Or guy! Or executive…person! By the way, Amazon has been my enemy after I lost money to fraud that they refused to acknowledge. Despite my distaste for them, I’ve had no choice but to join the dark side and give them a hefty portion of my sales. I’d rather give it elsewhere, but I have no choice because I am trying to stay in business. 

In the world of business, we have to make a profit, or at least stay afloat, or you end up reading things like this from someone like me! Let’s talk sales…Business 101, courtesy of yours truly. We have days where sales are good. and we are thrilled!! I decide things will be ok! Then, back to reality as I remember it has to make up for the slow days and pay for the inventory…whether it is something that sells well or just sits there looking pretty or well, just sits there.

Reality: some items are going to be expensive. I sell them for what I have agreed to per contract with the manufacturer or supplier. I am not to advertise their item on sale. I don’t set their price and no you can’t have it for the price that you set. Our regular customers never complain. They are so supportive, encouraging and grateful!

However, enjoy a favorite memory from someone I had never met: after being told we were having a sale on shirts, a “gentleman” didn’t find the one he wanted. He decided to cause quite the stir when I told him that it didn’t matter if the shoes he wanted were the same cost, no he couldn’t have 1/2 price on those instead. (I got to thinking that I’ve never tried that…but if i did it might sound like this “Sir, I’m not searching for the 30% off towels today, I’ll take that sale on craft supplies instead, and raise it to 40%, will ya?) I’ll perfect my cry of never shopping there again and how I can go out of town and get it for less.

Here is the deal with prices…some are determined for me, some I determine, and some are on sale because I overstocked or they are heading out of season, or I need to make room, and others are because I shopped at 1 a.m. again with one eye open! It also may be possible that someone accidentally ordered cases and cases of shoes, (some of which light up) that they believed were children’s only they were adults…I am not saying it was me that did that…maybe it is just a scenario…that I made up!

If part of a purchase was on sale or clearance, I may make a small profit, break even on that one, or lost out. Either way…SCORE! Believe it or not, I’m thrilled to see you happily shopping and you are thrilled to get that deal! It is a win win!!!

On the flip side, there are some I can’t please no matter what the cost. Every Friday this year, we have had a sale for an extra 15% off the clearance price. I have had to explain that doesn’t mean 75% off becomes 90% off. It means you have a clearance price and you take 15% off of that. Those are two different things, think about it. A $20 item becomes $5.00 at 75% off, then an extra 15% off the clearance price of $5.00 means you save another $0.75 so now it costs $4.25. Message me if it still doesn’t make sense! I can lose customers because it isn’t $2.00. My advice in that situation is if you want the dollar store prices, then go to the $1.25 store! They are your best bet for that! As far as that sale…it isn’t worth the fight anymore, so it is going to be replaced.

To the ones who let it be known that they will go north if it means they save a dollar…safe travels. What else do you want me to say? Or others who have vocalized in person or on social media that it isn’t their responsibility to shop local…that is a poor attitude towards your community. What if I said any one of those things to the grocery store…I can save money on milk up north so i’ll go there instead, sorry gas is cheaper up north so I’ll drive there to get it. That is like saying we don’t need that…until you realize maybe you actually do.

Shopping local might just a help the increasing taxes we pay, or help businesses decide to gamble on Price because they can see we have a big enough tax base. Keep in mind that companies decide to bring in their business, the city doesn’t have all the power; they can make things more inviting, but they don’t own those businesses, so we probably ought to quit complaining to them about it.

While I am unable to please everyone, I  am so thankful for the ones I can. I do have amazing customers! 

Thankfully, the holidays come because we need that to carry us through the slow months, but a slower holiday season, like this last one, means disaster. One doesn’t come back easily, trust me, I know. 

I want to give you an average idea of what might get spent in January or February or any slow day, For the sake of making it easy, say I have 10 customers and five of them make purchases that average out to be $50 each. So, that means I make $250, right? Wrong! I have to take off what it cost me, say it was half…again to make it easy, so I made $125…wrong. There was a sale for on footwear, so I actually paid $145. Profit of $105!! Wait, I need to pay my employees. But, good thing I only have one! Wages are $80 for the day…I’d sure like to give them a raise! Well, maybe next pay period. Now, I am at $25. Oh wait…everyone is cold. After all these old buildings aren’t insulated that well…turn up that heat! Wait…what about the rent? Taxes? Internet? Insurance? Donations?

I look often at data from the website: edgyblingshop.com. There are a lot of lookers and abandoned carts. Georgia, Florida and states back east have been saving me! This morning’s cologne order came from New Hartford, NY. But, where are more locals? If you aren’t with us, I hope you are at another local business!

I want to publicly offer my thanks to a few local ladies who posted about the fun they had shopping at the locally-owned businesses and having lunch right there. They took fun pictures at each place and talked about what they found. Perhaps you saw it. They will never know how much that means to us!

There is so much to be found right where you are (and don’t give me that too expensive reply, you know you will buy specialty drinks for like $6 and not bat an eye) I have special ordered things for someone that costs me $500 to $1000 to bring in for their one item. I have to order many of them and do it to serve you even when I can’t sell what I’ve ordered in. Who else does that? Small businesses, that’s who.

We all shop online, but have you ever considered us (or another local business)…like ever? You can shop the website and pick it up on your way up north! We continue to have sales and put a lot of work into getting it ready. Then, to have no one take advantage of it and even look is disheartening and frustrating.

The same with our social media that I mentioned. Why is it so hard to hit like??? We have to boost our posts and pay Facebook to get it noticed. I just don’t get it! So, there it is… the truth about small business in Price. If you hear differently from others…it isn’t true. We ALL need you or a bigger bank account than I have for sure.

Where I live right now every place just seems busy. The restaurants are packed most days of the week. People can sell their food out of a portable shed placed in a furniture store parking lot with other food trucks. They are all drive throughs parked in two rows with painted lanes now because the cars are lined up. There are lots of land that you find food options all together with their lights on just like International Days, but permanent. A sticker bus parks along our main street for weeks at a time, in front of Dollar General you might find someone selling t-shirts and stuffed animals, or once I saw nine tents put together in a square full of carnival like items and yet another selling boots. In the propane company lot, there is a man who sells fruit and someone who sells handmade items. When I heard the girl selling roasted corn made $10 an ear last year from underneath a canopy, I nearly croaked. There were people there a lot! My favorite to mention is a man that has been selling hot dogs from a vendor cart for years from the same location… a sidewalk by a gas station. He has enough supporters to stay in business. So, what does this have to do with anything…? They have the community’s support. They make enough to stay there day after day or at least as much as they want. Meanwhile, in Price, Main Street is praying that they have business, so I am thinking I need to start making hot dogs on the corner instead. 

Now, the moment you have all been waiting for…drum roll, please. I told you I’ve always supported new ideas and big businesses coming in, but my thoughts on that have changed? Here is my reason. If we are lucky enough to have them come, I don’t know how many years they will stay. They aren’t profitable enough and they have no reason to, no connection. We say we need or want them, but they don’t feel the same for us. You know…it is a one-sided relationship and they are the one that leaves. When they do, some of the small businesses might have survived while others just couldn’t. Then, it will take a while for small businesses to be back looking good.

It has been a cycle for many years and it always will be. How many times have you yourself said, “Remember the store that was here before? Wonder what happened to them!” I have a pretty good idea! Seriously, think about how many have been here and gone that you can think of? I recently heard of two more more businesses closing that have been open for decades! It is a sad thing for the community. I guarantee that the small businesses, including myself, are giving it all so that they can stay. They have some kind of connection. When I say it all…I mean all! My business has my heart, but it also has all of my money and then some. My husband has asked on multiple occasions what happened to the money in our account, I had to tell him sorry, but we had to make the payroll.

I keep telling myself to give it another month, and another or give it a week or even just one more day because I love the store and my customers. Thank you to all of you that have supported us! I love to visit with each of you when I am in town, even though my employees and all the things that need done are put on hold. I believe in what I am doing. I want to come home to the store I love. The problem is that the cards have been dealt, and I’m trying to decide whether or not I should hold my hand, ask for another card, or walk away. You can help me decide by doing one thing: make shopping local your first opportunity, not your last option. You may not need me specifically or like what i have to offer, but what about the salon, restaurant, or the pharmacy next to me, the grocer, the urgent care, the gas station, theater, or the free newspaper that isn’t really free. Keep tax dollars here, that helps us all!

To Price City…collect the taxes that are owed instead of raising them more. All that does is hurt us all. If the cards keep turning up to be the ones I want to trade in, I just can’t stay in the game. I’m going to just have to watch or play somewhere else. 

*** Update: I wrote this some time ago and never could hit the send button. I didn’t have the heart to get it in your hands. I hope that I represented myself, our store, and the other local businesses in the call for more support. The customers we have can’t carry the whole load! Many of them try and we love you! To the readers, please think about us when you start the holiday shopping. I decided this is as good of a time as any to say we wanted to come home, but instead will be opening a new boutique in Carlsbad… called Bree’s. We are excited for this new adventure. I still have hope that Buds and Blooms/Edgy Bling will be able to beat the odds and one day I’ll come home. God bless you all! 

Brenda Martinez

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