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Offering a taste of Wisconsin while battling inflation

Wisconsin business owners say they're adapting to record-high inflation during the holidays by connecting with more people and shopping locally.
Posted at 5:26 AM, Dec 12, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-12 07:25:41-05

According to the National Retail Federation, spending is up before the holidays, but more people are looking to stretch their money like never before because of inflation.

Local business owners say they're facing challenges, but they're working together to address the problem and encouraging people to shop locally for those local last-minute gifts.

With 15 sauces to choose, Mister Burns founder Corey Van Dyke is offering a taste of Wisconsin for the holidays while sharing his success in a highly competitive market.

Van Dyke says offering homemade products with homegrown ingredients is mostly enough to attract new customers, but he's had to ask himself some tough questions to stay ahead of inflation.

"People's spending habits are different, how are you going to get people out to the restaurant, how are you going to get people to enjoy your product with the challenges of today," Van Dyke asked himself.

He says that includes supporting other local business owners and making connections when shopping for supplies.

"I'm new to the markets, but I'm definitely noticing a downturn in sales and talking to other vendors. What's cool about the local markets is that there are so many people who are passionate about what they do, and that's really important about supporting local. There are so many people in our neighborhood and community who do amazing things," Van Dyke said.

Wisconsin agriculture is a $104.8 Billion a year industry, and 76th Alice in Dairyland Ambassador Ashley Hagenow says the best way to avoid shipping delays and combating inflation is shopping locally.

"If you are looking for some last-minute gift ideas or you're getting a few weeks ahead of the upcoming holiday season, there are hundreds of local Wisconsin businesses that are featured on this Something Special Wisconsin website," Hagenow said.

Van Dyke says he's also collaborating with other business owners from Door County to Oshkosh to make different products like popcorn.

"What's really cool about this is that it's three local companies that go into making one product," Van Dyke said.

But, at the end of the day, Van Dyke says growing a successful business depends on the passion behind your product.

"I love it. I mean, I can't compare it to anything else. I've been cooking for my whole life. I love making food for people, but this is really just my passion. It's just peppers, and everything that goes into it is just really me. I can cook you a burger, but this is what I do, and this is what I really enjoy doing," Van Dyke said.

Even though predicted spending is above average this year, it's not the highest Americans have experienced.

The National Retail Federation expects Americans to spend more than $960 Billion this year to ensure everyone has a merry Christmas.