Here we are - deep into the Holiday season amidst a pandemic that is upending traditions and time together. It is also wreaking havoc on small businesses that are dependent on retail sales. Without the advertising power and physical store presence the big retailers and delivery services have, it is difficult for them to compete, and get your attention. Yet they offer some unique products you and your families will definitely enjoy.
The Business of Food launched a virtual storefront on December 5th. It features locally produced unique products grown or manufactured by local small businesses. Were it summer, you might find these items at your local farmer's market. But, we are in the dead of winter. Our alternative marketplace enables you to purchase artisan, small-batch items and pick them up at our Sycamore location, just west of the Kane County/DeKalb County border on Route 64. It's simple: order online before 4:00 pm on Wednesday for pick-up on Saturday.
Like us, a majority of our Marketplace food entrepreneurs are women-owned small businesses. Small business as a whole is hurting right now, and for many reasons, women-owned small businesses are suffering more. According to a recent report by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce women-owned small businesses have been more heavily impacted by the coronavirus pandemic than male-owned small businesses, and they are less likely to anticipate a strong recovery in the year ahead. The report also states that women-owned small businesses are less optimistic than their male counterparts about future business plan revenue, investment, and hiring plans.
One of the artisan food entrepreneurs we feature in our virtual market is Anais Barrera, owner/baker of The Bon Bon Macaron, LLC. Anais started her macaron business in March right when things started shutting down. The barriers to entry were great due to Covid.
Anais explained "I had trouble finding farmer's markets and events that were not shut down because of Covid. I applied to lots of markets, but many were not taking new vendors. I did NOT give up!" She was accepted as a vendor at the downtown Elgin Farmers Market and the Aurora Farmer's Market for the summer season.
"Once the season ended it was another hurdle finding winter markets. This year has not been easy, especially for small businesses," Anais lamented. Even though many winter markets are not operating this year due to Covid, she didn't give up and we are happy to showcase her beautiful macarons at the Mill River Marketplace Virtual Storefront.
Anais's experience trying to find places to sell her macarons this year is not unique. Social distancing and economic pressures due to Covid have impacted all of our vendors in some way. However, building a community of food entrepreneurs and helping them succeed is one of our goals. Many consumers appreciate unique products like macarons or are looking for vegan and/or gluten-free products, and products made without preservatives and the finest ingredients. We want to ensure that our members continue to provide those things now during the pandemic and after.
Here at the Business of Food, we believe strongly that in supporting each of our small business members. Every week on social media we will introduce you to some new or unique items available through our virtual store. We'll also help you learn about the small businesses whose items we carry, how they make their products, and the ingredients they use.
Supporting small businesses now helps to ensure that they remain in business after the pandemic and be poised to grow. Your purchase supports local small businesses while providing unique artisan items for you, your family, and your friends. Visit our marketplace to learn more.