BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — As the first day of school approaches Kern County, some children will be returning to full-time in-person learning or day care for the first time in over a year. That means, they will want to look their best.

While big-box stores are a popular option for back-to-school shopping, local stores want to remind the community that in spite of recent economic challenges, they’re open and ready to help you find something “cute and unique.”

“We’re doing everything that we can to try and keep it to where our customers are able to come in and afford something,” Ryan Goldberg, owner of Baby Me & Simply Me, said.

Most recently, the biggest challenge has been the season. Goldberg said the summer months are not particularly kind to local businesses.

“People are gone. They’re not in their usual routines,” Goldberg said. She added that most small businesses use their winter wages to get them through the summer.

But with the pandemic and supply chain issues lording over this past holiday season, it hasn’t been easy.

“Get on a roller coster,” Goldberg said. “That’s how it has been.”

Goldberg said she’s worked for small businesses for 19 years before purchasing the boutique-style clothing store for women and babies about a year ago. She said business started to bounce back after the winter, but was short-lived.

“Within a matter of a week it just went *screech*,” Goldberg said. 

As a result of the pandemic, not only did small businesses have to deal with the supply chain disruptions but also rising gas prices making it hard to restock inventory and making people wary of spending money.

“You don’t have that extra $100 to buy yourself a garment or to spend on someone’s birthday present or baby shower,” Goldberg said. “You’re not spending it because you don’t know what’s going to happen next week.”

Goldberg said her store hasn’t been the only small business to struggle with these issues. She said she and other local business owners she knows are getting creative to keep prices low to match the big-box stores.

“You have to pre-plan ahead and try and bundle things that you maybe wouldn’t have before to try and get a break on your shipping or strike a deal with them [suppliers] to down your shipping [costs],” Goldberg said.

Baby Me & Simply Me also offers a free gift wrapping service.

“At one point, I was spending more money on the shipping than I was on the boxes,” she said.

“It’s way more work than it normally would have been or should be,” she added.

Goldberg said she’s been utilizing social media and other media ads to try and get the word out, but it’s not enough.

“I really think that the customers—they don’t actually realize how just them coming in and spending $50 or $20 makes a huge difference in paying the bills.”

So, as summer comes to an end, consider shopping small for your back-to-school items from one of these local clothing and accessory options:

  • Simply Me & Baby Me
  • Lottie B
  • Sincerely Ashley Clothing Boutique
  • The Nest
  • In Your Wildest Dreams
  • Shop Spoiled
  • Sarah Outlet
  • Encore Boutique
  • Sun and Smiles Boutique
  • Peter Pan Shop
  • Stage Fright Clothing
  • Impact Skate Shop
  • Rags to Rescue Vintage Boutique
  • Junk-atique Outlet Thrift Store
  • Bargain Box Thrift Store
  • Vogue-ish

“We don’t want to be a town full of Targets,” Goldberg said.

Have any other favorite local shops? Drop us a line!