Over the last several years, we’ve seen a really big shift in how people are shopping – especially here in San Francisco. The city is growing, and the Bay Area’s tech boom is impacting a lot of businesses. While the city’s economy is absolutely thriving, many longtime San Francisco residents, small businesses, stores and restaurants are now unable to afford rent and are being forced to close up shop and move elsewhere. It’s really tough to see, but that’s what’s happening.
You’ve probably heard of something that I like to call the Amazon effect. E-commerce is exponentially increasing, and it’s disrupting the rest of the retail market, both online and in physical outlets. People are expecting more for less, and they want it now. Here at CMD, we make every single piece to order. We produce each order quickly enough for our customers to get it within a week of their purchase. We’re trying our best to keep up with the changes, and we’re willing to make the shifts. You simply have to keep up with these changing trends or you’ll just fall behind as a business.
Moving production to Upstate New York was a circumstantial move that turned out to be a great thing for CMD. My production manager, Aryana was one of my first employees here in San Francisco. Originally from Trumansburg, New York, she met her now-husband in Oakland and moved back east to start her new family. I was thrilled for her, and also knew that CMD was struggling to staff the Showroom with both sales and production talent. CMD offers a lot of perks, but the fact of the matter is that we can’t compete with a lot of employers in the Bay Area.
We rented a studio in T-burg (four hours upstate from NYC) where we began building a small team who handled all of our production from then-on. The space was perfect for us to grow and build the business that we are today. It’s because of the intentional changes that CMD continues to grow. The Showroom is still alive and I feel lucky to have a brick and mortar in SF, but these changes are fast a’coming.
Online shopping is fantastic, but I want to challenge you think about the value in shopping small. Remember how important it is to shop in stores and support our local communities and neighbors. Grab a coffee and scone from the coffee shop around the corner, pop into the neighborhood shop to grab a card and birthday gift. These little acts truly help with keeping the smaller shops in business. As we continue to see small spaces closing, I encourage you to consider the part you play in contributing to what makes your neighborhood vibrant.
And I’m curious, what do you think is next? How will retail look in five or ten years down the road? I, for one, like buying my groceries in the store and picking out my produce by hand even if it takes me an extra hour a week. There’s so much uncertainty here and I’m trying to navigate this shift not only as a small business owner, but also as a San Francisco city dweller. What do you think about this?