It’s 3:30 am and I’m wide awake. Again.  I just remembered that I forgot to put our plus size hanger tags on our new batch of “Joyful” shirts.  I can just sneak downstairs and get it done while I’m thinking of it and be back upstairs to bed in 10 minutes!  Before I know it, it’s 7:00 am and I have to get my daughter up for school.  This is not the first, or the last time, this will happen, especially during the busy Christmas season.

The Christmas season can be stressful and insane for anybody but if you own a small business it’s an entirely different kind of stress. This it the time of year that can make or break us.  If we do well, it can set us up for the next few months when retail is historically slow.  However, if our sales are slow, the first new months of the new year can be scary.  We’re trying to compete with Black Friday deals from Amazon, Target and the other “Big Boys” while still trying to figure out how much we can afford to take off our prices and still actually turn a small profit.

It’s also the busiest show/market season. I know it sounds crazy, but I actually love the shows!  We have a chance to meet amazing customers and vendors and make some new friends along the way. But we also get the opportunity to learn. We learn from other vendors and customers.  It gives us the opportunity to learn and improve from show to show.

Even with all of this, I love what I do!!! However, there are parts of being a small business owner that I do not love. We had a very interesting show two weeks ago I want to talk about.  I want to talk about this not for sympathy and support but to show a different side.

We understand that we may not be everybody’s “cup of tea” given that we sell faith based apparel and accessories. Faith and religion has always a topic that seems taboo to discuss.  

The challenging part for us during this show was the response we received.  We have had people walk past our booth and we can hear comment regarding our products.  Again, not everyone likes our items. 

However, we have never had people come into our booth just to tell us how much they hated our things.  Over three days, we had people come into our space and tell us we were stupid. Someone actually poked my mom the shoulder and told her she was stupid!  Others come in and tell us our products were awful, overpriced, wretched, and not worth anything.  Still others came in to tell us we had no business being there selling our items.  Never in my life have I experienced something like this. We had people walk by the booth and tell us how much they hated what we had.  We had people come in our booth and curse at us.

I understand that when you go to market shows and you go to into small business, you may not like what that person sells but that does not give you the right to insult them and belittle them. No one has that right!  I put my heart and time into this business. I miss time with family and friends to make this business grow. I want to show my daughter that she can own her own business and be successful.  I remember going home that Saturday night after the show and calling my husband in tears.  

I can can’t tell you how many times my husband and my daughter have stayed up late into the night tagging clothing and boxing up jewelry and pictures. How many time my mom and my dad have helped me load trucks to set up for a show.  Or how many times my mom and my sister and I have gotten up at 5:00 am to be ready for a 7:00 am show, worked a 14-hour shift to come home, get dinner at 10:00 pm and do it again the next day. The crazy thing is we absolutely love it! I love meeting our customers. I love the stories that we get to hear, the hugs that we get and the time I get to spend with my family in a business that I love with all my heart.

So please remember this holiday season as you are shopping to support small businesses.  Remember that we are trying to compete with the big boys and every little purchase helps. Every “like” and “share” on social media helps.   But also remember that if you don’t like someone’s items, please be kind and respectful.  Hurtful words can dig deep.


December 03, 2019 — Andrea Whitley