Local businesses face higher prices, supply shortages

By: Sergiy Volotovskyy

Supply-chain shortages have made holiday shopping stressful for some, but local businesses offer community connection for students.

Leo Santiago III, an international Network Services Technician (NST) student at Red River College Polytechnic, said he prefers shopping in-person. He said online-only items and shipping delays mean some packages arrive long after Christmas.

Juhyun Yu, another international student in the NST program at RRC Polytech, said he was surprised by the two-week delivery times when he moved to Winnipeg.

Santiago and Yu said they hadn’t considered locally made gifts as an alternative to online shopping. They said they had interest in buying local, even with higher prices, to connect with the community.

“If it (has) a really meaningful purpose like hiring local people and (making) local stuff,” said Yu. 

“It’s also like a return back to the community. Because I’m already living here I might as well help,” said Santiago. “It has to be planned, but I am going to actually save some money for this.”

Avery-Anne Gervais is an RRC Polytech Business Administration graduate and the owner of Tiny Maker Mind, a local business that makes detailed etched wooden blocks. She said local businesses are also facing supply-chain issues. 

Avery-Anne Gervais, owner of Tiny Maker Mind, packs an order of laser-cut blocks inside North Forge’s Fabrication Lab./SERGIY VOLOTOVSKYY

“I thought that I’d be safe from it, but I’m really not,” said Gervais. 

Gervais said she is still receiving orders despite increased prices and wait times. 

She said she wouldn’t have started her business without the equipment at North Forge’s Fabrication Lab and its community of local students, makers, and business owners. 

“When you buy from me, you’re (also) supporting a local contractor who’s growing his own business…a local photographer…a local mill (with) students apprenticing and learning tools,” said Gervais.

As her business grows, material shortages have become more noticeable. Gervais said she drove to Toronto to secure a larger laser cutter in time for a contract. She said even basic materials, like wood, are hard to find.

“It’s literally a guessing game if it’s going to be there,” said Gervais.

Gervais said she is selling online and in person.

“Markets are great for customer feedback,” she said. “You almost (always) have to do them when you’re starting out.” 

RRC Polytech’s sustainability team announced they will use Instagram to highlight local businesses run by alumni, students, and staff.