Article: The New Normal and a Renewed Support for U.S. Alpaca

06/08/2020
by NEAFP Co


Now more than ever, communities across the country realize the importance of supporting small business, buying local, and shopping sustainably. U.S. Alpaca is at the forefront of a renaissance in local agriculture, U.S. manufacturing, and a call for more sustainable fashion. Over the past few months, we’ve been forced to rethink the ways in which we live, work, and shop. We know how resilient our farmers are, however, as you’ve quickly adapted to survive and even thrive under new conditions. 
 
#LOVEALPACA


A convoy of cars waits to "visit" with alpacas during one of Harvard Alpaca Ranch's drive-through tours.

Many alpaca farmers were already poised for success at the beginning of 2020, a vast majority having e-commerce websites, customer email lists, and active social media pages from which they could stay in contact with their followers. At the beginning of the crisis, farms like Northern Solstice Alpaca Farm began offering virtual farm tours to bring the alpaca farm into the homes of their visitors. Harvard Alpaca Ranch found overwhelming success offering drive-through alpaca farm tours. Their first was so successful (over 80 cars attended and over $800 was raised for charity!) that they ended up offering not one, but three iterations of the popular event. It wasn’t long before alpacas were outside windows cheering up quarantined nursing home residents, or meeting new friends through Zoom meetings at Apple Hill Farm. Despite everything, alpacas continued to capture positive attention around the globe and alpaca farmers put the “Do Good” in “Feel Good, Do Good.”

 
Alpacas at Apple Hill Farm have traveled all over the country (and the world!) through Zoom meetings.
 
 
A Changing Landscape



Farmer's Markets like this one in Petaluma, CA are open, but with some new restrictions.

Consumers found new ways to feed their families after “Big Agriculture” struggled to meet the demands of a strained food system, leading to crowded grocery stores with empty shelves. Local farmers, co-ops, and CSAs offered a safer alternative allowing customers to purchase fresh produce directly from the person that grew the food. More and more individuals began purchasing shares in their local CSAs, guaranteeing them access to a regular supply of healthy food. Now both customer and farm reap the benefits of a person-to-person sale. Farmers finding success in these trying times hope that consumers will continue to support local agriculture as restrictions ease up and farmer’s reopen, and chances are that many will.

A Clearer Consciousness



How will stores deal with the excess inventory of product they have accumulated since closing?
 

Shopping has changed too, as stores were shuttered, we were forced to change our consuming habits. Super-producing fast fashion brands remain overwhelmed with unmovable inventory, meanwhile researchers have discovered a shift in consumer habits. A study by Accenture U.S. found that more and more consumers are making purchases online. Shoppers are thinking more consciously about what they’re buying and where they’re buying it, making more sustainable choices, and prioritizing local producers that they trust. If the fashion industry can adopt the tenets of the slow fashion movement and make changes to meet these new habits, it could be a huge victory for the environment and U.S. Alpaca. While alpaca farmers already understand the benefits of investing in a product that’s all natural and made to last (regardless of seasonal trends!), imagine the impact an industry-wide shift could have!
 

Some consumers are relearning the art of mending and darning to preserve quality products instead of buying fast fashion.
 

A Strange New World



The world may have changed, but our love for alpaca remains!

 

As farmer’s markets begin opening up across the country with a variety of new safety precautions, it’s likely that these past few months will make a lasting impact on shopping habits, translating into sales for small businesses. Online shopping has become more popular across a wider range of demographics than ever before, so there is no better time to focus on updating your email lists, focusing on your social media pages, and fine-tuning your e-commerce site. 

Who knows what other changes could be just around the corner? You may see a surge in customers as more remote workers move from the city to suburbs and rural areas, or perhaps you’ll attract novice crafters who learned new skills like knitting during quarantine. Sentiment is up as we all adapt to this strange new world. We’re hoping that U.S. Alpaca emerges stronger than ever, due to the can-do spirit of our farmers and the push for more local, sustainable products from consumers. Let’s do this!

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