Local business struggles to bounce back from 2022 challenges, economists say 2023 looking better

Posted at 6:03 PM, Dec 30, 2022
and last updated 2023-01-02 22:37:23-05

WACO, Texas — People and businesses all across the country have felt the hurt from inflation for over a year now, but one small business in Waco tells 25 News bouncing back is even harder than expected.

YOUtopia Essentials first opened during May of 2021. The shop offers all natural, handcrafted self-care products, books, decor, and so much more.

"This shop is very important to me," Owner Amber Phelps said. "The availability of us here in Waco, we're the only one of our kind."

But as the new year kicks off, Phelps said she's not sure how much longer they can serve the community.

"I just want it to be an affordable option for everybody, but that's difficult when things are unavailable or skyrocketing in price," she said.

Product shortages and inflation in 2022 has made it very difficult to stay open while maintaining low prices.

"One of my biggest goals is to make items affordable for people to make a healthier choice and when everything is going up in price, if it is available," Phelps said. "There's some things I choose to quit making and quit offering as opposed to upping the price."

Phelps knows many people are struggling right now and doesn't want her products to be unaffordable.

"It's kind of a Catch 22, I guess," she said. "If people are out of work or can't afford things or on a budget, and then I'm trying to make things affordable, but ingredients are going up. We can't do both, we can't do all."

Economists say Phelps is not along and it was a hard year for a lot of businesses with many obstacles to get through.

"We had inflation, which hurt a lot of people," Ray Perryman of the Perryman Group said. "We had supply chain issues, which caused people difficulty getting the parts and things they needed to make products, sell products and take delivery products. We also had work force shortages. There was kind of a combination of things that made 2022 a difficult year."

Even with as tough the last few years have been, 2023 is predicted for be a much better year for the economy.

"The economy is making its way through this period," Leila Assani with the Federal Reserve of Dallas told 25 News. "It's a period of transition as we are moving from a very high growth stage to a very modest and average pace of the economy. As that happens, we will see inflationary pressures subside."

Until those pressures subside, the pressure to stay open continues for businesses like YOUtopia Essentials.

"I'm not one to typically ask for help, I try to figure it out myself but it was looking really glum," Phelps said. "I didn't know if we were going to make it to the end of the year."

Phelps had to start a GoFundMe in December to help balance finances. She said as hard as that was to do, she is grateful for the community's support.