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National Emerging Business Trends

Avatar photo by Casey Woods, Executive Director | October 25, 2022
matt wag

Growing opportunities for entrepreneurs.

he National Main Street Center collects data from a variety of sources to highlight growth opportunities for Main Street businesses. National Program Officer, Matt Wagner, provided some insight during last week’s Kansas Main Street Quarterly Training on Maker Ecosystems. Here were some of the findings:

Distributed workforce opportunities with geographically separated people working together through online portals are enhancing maker businesses. A plethora of retail platforms and more convenient shipping logistics make sales and delivery options easier, and more communities are creating maker spaces to make the product development process faster and easier.

Different categories of business growth as consumer behavior shifts include:

Health, fitness & outdoor recreation- Sales for bikes, bike components and accessories, leisure bike apparel, and water sports accessories have all increased significantly. Although not as significant as during the COVID spike, sales in cycling and outdoor recreation equipment is outpacing 2019. With a significant biking presence, Emporia may want to focus more on generating destination sales traffic for cycling enthusiasts from outside the traditional market trade area.

Scotts-Miracle Gro indicated that 36% more Americans are growing vegetables, herbs, and tomatoes this year. Opportunities exist for gardening tools, heritage seeds, and gardening kits. Introductory gardening sets, coupled with expert advice, may allow businesses in this industry to continue growth.

The musical instrument market is poised to grow by $1.17 billion during 2020-2024 according to Technavio. Hand-crafted instruments, upcycled instruments, instruments constructed with unique materials, and heritage instruments (instruments that tell a story about the person that made them, location, history, or heritage) are a potential source of growth.

Natural, organic, and sustainable items are more in demand. Sixty-one percent of consumers are making more environmentally friendly, sustainable, or ethical purchases. Organic personal care products, fair trade produced, sustainably sourced, or value added agricultural products will see increased demand.

Working from home is changing product demand in targeted areas. Home office furniture/fixtures/technology, “Zoom” apparel, upcycled furnishings, and kitchen gadget sales continue to grow as people blend work and home. Adjusting marketing to appeal to the “work from home” niche may appeal to a growing consumer base.

Businesses in the restaurant industry are hybridizing concepts to diversify inflows and support entrepreneurship.  There is a saying on Kansas farms: “the combine isn’t making you any money while it’s sitting in the shed”. Small business restaurants all around the nation are working with entrepreneurs during off hours/days to incubate entrepreneurial food-based businesses with their commercial kitchens.  Making money on otherwise idle equipment while supporting entrepreneurial development seems like a win-win!

Change plus ingenuity equals opportunity. What changes is your business making to take advantage of new opportunities in this evolving regional market? If you are stuck in “innovation fatigue”, Emporia Main Street may have tools, resources, and planning support to help you grow.

About the Author

Casey Woods, Executive Director

Before accepting the director position in March of 2009, Casey worked in both retail and agricultural jobs in the family businesses. A lifelong resident of the Emporia Area, Casey was a ten year volunteer for Emporia Main Street prior to his appointment as director. During that time he served as the board president and chair of the Economic Vitality Committee.

Casey also serves as a partner in PlaceMakers, LLC, a consulting firm that routinely works with both large and small communities, and their businesses, to promote sustainable economic growth through community and economic development practices. Casey consults with businesses, organizations and communities to understand their market capacity and fill vacant spaces. He has been involved in two projects that included crowdfunding as a part of their overall business funding strategies, Radius Brewing and Twin Rivers Winery & Gourmet Shoppe.