Small Business Story: Suger Competes with Discount Stores

The CoverWallet Small Business Scholarship encourages entrepreneurship in students by asking them to take on the perspective of a local small business owner. Students share their perspective on the opportunities and challenges faced by a business in their community.

Student: Rachel Robertson, University of Southern Maine

Small Business: Suger


My favourite local business is a small boutique in my hometown, Biddeford, Maine.  Suger is a very interesting store with all kinds of unique accessories and beautiful clothes produced in an old mill across the street.  The people in Suger are very friendly and the whole store is a very pleasant, stylish place. It’s a great shop to purchase gifts.  There is always a lovely piece of jewelry or a fascinating trinket for your friend or relative.

But, while Suger is such an enticing place to shop, they face many risks in their business. One example of a risk they face is the price of their items.  Because so many of their things are handmade, they tend to be on what many consider the pricier side of things.  While the prices are acceptable for handmade items, it’s hard for Suger to compete with bigger corporations like TJMaxx or Target who are just 10 minutes up the road.  While a necklace at Suger is something you can’t get anywhere else, the price might convince people to head up to a store like Walmart to make their purchase for a smaller amount of money.  

Another risk Suger faces is their location.  Biddeford isn’t really a big tourist place or a popular shopping spot, like downtown Portland.  While Biddeford is definitely improving their attraction to people from out of state by bringing in unique shops and fixing up the buildings, they don’t have the destination feel yet.  Both of these risks bring up the third and most important risk Suger faces.  Customers. Downtown Biddeford is not full of rich people who spend their time shopping.  Many of the people in Biddeford are hard workers who value the money they get.  They have been raised shopping at Walmart to keep their expenses down, and while this is not necessarily bad, it does pose a risk for Suger, whose prices are not the low deals their big competitors have.  While supporting a small business has many benefits, it’s hard to choose to pay more money for a good quality item rather than go up the road and buy a similar product for less money.

Despite all these risks, I hope that Suger as well as other small businesses in Biddeford continue to flourish and benefit the community around them.  Small, local businesses like Suger help create jobs for people and are much more unique and interesting than a chain store.  They enhance the quality of life for their workers by paying them a fair wage and service their customers by giving them a much better quality product.