Publisher’s Letter: Critical This Year — Shop Locally!

By Blaine Howerton, Publisher
North Forty News

Whenever a local business closes down, there’s always associated heartbreak — employees lose their jobs and their ability to support other local businesses, and owners may face severe financial loss along with the dreams that built the business.

But in a pandemic, the loss of locally-owned businesses might become so widespread that it’s downright catastrophic. Your local community runs the risk of becoming a ghost town losing its “destination status” that brings people from neighboring communities to spend money in your town without your continuing support. This revenue loss can decrease financial support for your local schools, parks, first responders, and other vital community services you depend on. It’s not just a luxury when you buy locally; you support your community and neighbors whose names you may not know, but they are your neighbors.

When it’s so easy to order online and pad the pockets of billionaires unless it’s a product you absolutely cannot buy locally, do you really want to spend your money online where your dollars will never be re-circulated in your local economy?

One study found that for every $100 spent locally, at least $68 remained in the local economy — spend online, and that money is gone from your community in total — and this year, online spending is up a whopping 76%!

Think of businesses in your town that you love and find ways to support them. By now, retailers are adept at using safe practices such as plexiglass barriers, masks, adhering to employee handwashing regulations, contactless payment systems, a limited number of shoppers allowed in the store at any one time, and signs on the floor to indicate the safe distance between shoppers. In addition to this, you can call ahead for an item and have it brought out curbside where you don’t even have to get out of your car.

When the pandemic has finally been brought under control, and it’s safe once again to resume your previous level of activities, imagine if your favorite restaurants and retail establishments are gone, once quality establishments, forced to close due to lack of revenue brought about by the pandemic — I guarantee, you will miss them — and you could have done something about it.

Here are some ways you can support your favorite businesses:

  • Be flexible as businesses face some of the most stringent restrictions in recorded history.
  • Order carry-out.
  • Buy something extra to make up for all the times you haven’t been shopping.
  • Tip more generously for all the times you haven’t eaten out.
  • Purchase gift cards.
  • Call and order over the phone an item for curbside delivery.
  • Check with your favorite business and perhaps call them to ask how they’re doing (some are making it due to their very loyal customers).

Perhaps because you could work from home, you haven’t been adversely affected by the pandemic. Please give some thought to supporting small businesses in your local community.

In this way, when a vaccine is in wide use, and it’s safe once again to venture out with the frequency you were once used to, your community will have remained intact, in part, through your support. And hopefully, your favorite restaurants and retail stores will still be there and ready for your even more frequent business.

This challenging time will end, and if we have all done our part to think about our neighbors and our community, we will all be better for it.

Stay safe! Stay well! And support locally-owned businesses!



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