Holiday Season Blues?

The holidays are right around the corner. How is your business approaching the gift giving season? How are you ramping up or ramping down? What uncertainties are you facing? Let me know!

-- Brenda Rees, Biz Buzz Editor

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Low (volume) Thanksgiving expectations

Village Bakery

"We really don't know what to expect," sums up Barbara Willams, owner of Village Bakery about the volume of this year's to-go Thanksgiving meals.

There is so much uncertainty about how the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday will play out for caterers, restaurants and small businesses that rely on a predictable income generated by this food-centric celebration.

Recently, Dr. Anthony Fauci advocated that Americans may want to consider canceling their Thanksgiving meal plans or, keep such gatherings small. Los Angeles County is following state guidelines by allowing private outdoor gatherings of three or fewer households with social distancing protocols and other safety measures.

Realizing the potential limits of Turkey Day, many small businesses are adjusting and keeping expectations low and are relying on pre-ordering.

“I have a theory about how things worked in the past,” says Barbara Williams, owner of the Village Bakery in Atwater Village that offers full Thanksgiving meals to go, among its pastries and lunchtime sandwiches. Some customers will order in advance, she explains, but others are determined to, “cook the meal themselves. But then, when Thanksgiving is only a week away they realize ‘I don’t know how to make a pie!’ That’s when they place an order. Lots of last minute orders.”

Williams currently sees a small number of pre-orders, anticipating more requests as the days get closer. She’s pleased the pandemic prompted the 11-year-old business to finally create an online ordering system, deciding on Tock, a platform that is “secure and simple to use,” says Williams.

This year, Williams created a menu that focuses on smaller gatherings – traditional feast with all the fixings for two or a package that serves up to six eaters. “It’s been a horrible year,” she says, “but we still have many things to be grateful for. This is going to be one Thanksgiving to remember.”

Pre-ordering for smaller get-togethers

Chops Meat and Fish, which recently moved inside Fresco Community Market in Hermon, will not be competing with the standard grocery store holiday turkeys. Instead, his focus will be pre-orders for such holiday favorites like prime rib, holiday hams, quail and duck. Perez keeps an eye on the possibility of another processing slowdown in the meat industry.

Vegan eateries are also adapting to this year's pandemic Thanksgiving.

“We’ve always done well catering with our holiday menus,” says Mollie Engelhart, owner of Sage Vegan Bistro in Echo Park about feasts featuring seitan turkey, lentil meatloaf and more. This year, customers can choose smaller serving portions – individual meals and family meals for four.  “We think people may order less because of the limited number of families you can have gather together, and that many won't travel this year for the holiday,” she says.

Along with pre-ordering holiday meals, the restaurant will have some “grab and go items” (like macaroni and vegan cheese and others) the week leading up to Thanksgiving.

Engelhart is particularly proud of the homemade holiday tamales with many of the ingredients (corn, tomatillos, etc.) grown on the restaurant’s organic farm in Fillmore. “It’s really a labor of love since we planted the corn way back in March,” she says.

What are you Thanksgiving food plans?

You voted:

Biz Buzz Asks: How's Business?

We posed the question to Javid Pourdavood, co-owner of Quick’r Print’r.

HOw's business quick'r print'r

Quick’r Print’r is located at 5860 N. Figueroa St, Highland Park.

The Shopping Question: How Will They Buy?

A recent survey suggests that holiday consumer spending could drop 17 percent compared to last year in the Los Angeles Metro area because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The survey by Deloitte showed people in Greater Los Angeles area are likely to spend an average of $1,256 on holiday shopping this year compared to the 2019 survey when the average response was $1,511.

L.A. shoppers admitted they will be more frugal that the national average which is $1,387 for holiday spending. Even with anxiety over reduced household income, about half of the shoppers believe the economy will improve in 2021.

And take note, nonprofits: about 76 percent of Angeleno consumers said they plan to donate during the upcoming holiday season.

Just say “No”

Business owners now have the backing of the LA City Council when it comes to dealing with patrons who will not wear masks or face coverings while on their premises.

A new ordinance approved by the council authorizes owners to refuse service to mask-less customers in order to keep their employees and other patrons safe from the pandemic.  

The ordinance is in now in effect – it was adopted under an urgency clause – and will end when the city’s Safer at Home orders are lifted.

L.A. Women Empowerment

A virtual celebration of women-owned businesses in Los Angeles kicks off L.A. Women’s Entrepreneurship Day 2020 on Nov. 19.

Current and aspiring entrepreneurs will hear from emerging local women entrepreneurs, participate in breakout sessions with leading experts, browse a financial resource expo, and network with other women entrepreneurs and organizations.

The event is free and takes place from 10am to 3pm.

When One Door Shuts….

Sometimes it’s hard for some small businesses to see a path forward, especially when they have their backs up against the wall because of the pandemic.  An upcoming free webinar focuses on real-world examples that show how product/service companies have successfully pivoted.

Small Business – Creating Businesses During Economic Challenges” takes place on Nov. 23 and is sponsored by SCORE Los Angeles.

In addition, the presenter will share basic e-commerce plans and resources so small businesses owners can better connect to their customers, suppliers and industry.

That’s it for this issue!

Many small businesses are calling it quits -- but it's hard to track actual numbers. Have you heard of a small business on the Eastside that has closed? Let us know. We want to better understand how the national economics are affecting our local community.

We will be back next week with more Biz Buzz.

-- Brenda Rees

Connect With Your Chamber of Commerce

Atwater Village Chamber of Commerce

Eagle Rock Chamber of Commerce

East Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce

Echo Park Chamber of Commerce

Silver Lake Chamber of Commerce

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