Harris Jewelers co-owners Karen Fitzpatrick and Mark Guerin celebrate University of New Mexico Spirit Week on Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021. Fitzpatrick said she expects a strong holiday shopping season for her establishment because of how much inventory they’re carrying. (Matt Hollinshead/Observer)

While national supply chain issues may impact big-box stores’ holiday shopping inventory, Rio Rancho’s small-business retail scene is unmoved.

If anything, the locally owned shop owners see the coming weeks as a prime opportunity.

“We think we’re pretty well poised for a really good season… ‘Shop Small Saturday’ has always been a really good day for us,” said Believers Christian Gifts owner Mike Huffstuttler. “We have a good variety right now in our store.”

Once the “initial craze” of Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping subsides, Rancho Regional Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Jerry Schalow said there’ll be inventory limits on giant retail items — which will in turn help create that opportunity to “think small, buy local” and invest in unique gift ideas that don’t come from overseas.

“The positive side of this is New Mexico-made products — whether it’s the different food products we have like the salsas, the chiles, different things that are made here — that is great for New Mexico because they won’t have supply issues with the stuff produced here because it’s all local,” he said.

Schalow also said items made in the U.S., Mexico or Canada should be readily available, but noted it’s a different story for stores like Target.

“There’s a lot of empty shelves. I know (Target) just went through a remodeling, and the store looks great, but there are a lot of empty shelves there that they can’t fill,” he said.

Despite having to back-order 75 of his 100 jewelry items, Huffstuttler said his store’s well-packed with its other signature gift items.

He said his store’s been good at making sure its books, Bibles and other apparel are well-stocked. Furthermore, he said he’s overstocking a bit on those items to prevent possible shortages entering Christmas week, which is the busiest time for his business.

Harris Jewelers owners also planned ahead in making sure operations go smoothly this holiday season.

“I’ve never carried this much inventory in my life,” said Karen Fitzpatrick, co-owner of Harris Jewelers. “I don’t want to be caught waiting for the supply chain and then disappointing customers.”

Fitzpatrick said most of her store’s items come from within the continental U.S. or Canada, and she got ahead of the curve obtaining some of the store’s wristwatches from overseas.

She said a tremendous amount of Harris Jewelers’ business transactions occur in November and December, adding it also helps the store won’t have to make do with just curbside pickup services this year.

“Try to imagine selling a $10,000 ring on the hood of a car. It’s quite difficult,” she said.
She said Harris Jewelers can take advantage of the fact its customers are “brand-conscious” and won’t just settle for shopping via chain jewelers.

“They know our brand; they know our quality; they know our reputation,” she said.

Schalow said there’ll also be plenty of local vendors taking part in the Small Business Saturday Vendors and Craft Fair on Nov. 27 in the Enchanted Hills shopping center, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. He said events like that present opportunities to send gifts to friends and family living out of state.

He also said he noticed some people who have moved from another state to Rio Rancho or west Albuquerque in the last couple years are tapping into that approach, sending out New Mexico-made items to loved ones in their previous location — whether it’s New York or California.

“There’s a lot of great things out there that you can’t just pop in and get at your local store in Pittsburgh, Pa.,” Schalow said. “We have such a unique culture here with the Native American influence, the Spanish influence. We have so many things that you can’t get in the rest of the nation… It will be cherished, versus getting another item that’s imported from China or something else that’s a little less personal.”