BY AMY HILL
The year 2020 has taken its physical, emotional, and financial toll on the world. With the holidays quickly approaching, some retail therapy is justified and very much needed. Before filling up your Amazon wish list and shopping cart, why not take a break from mega-giant shopping (doesn’t Jeff Bezos have enough money already?) and step out into our community to shop small and support local businesses this holiday season?
Due to COVID-19, small businesses have taken a financial blow, with many not being able to recover as states safely and slowly reopen. According to Yelp’s Local Economic Impact Report, 97,966 businesses had permanently closed nationwide due to the pandemic as of September 2020. The report also indicates that some of the hardest hit industries have been restaurants and retail, specifically clothing, gift shops, and home decor.
Many of us have been deeply saddened by local businesses that have fallen victim to the throes of COVID-19. Downtown favorites such as Mooney’s Mediterranean Cafe and Mary’s Gourmet Diner have permanently closed during the pandemic, and many restaurants, bars and shops in the area are still struggling to keep their heads above water. While it may be tempting to turn to huge retailers for gifts, it is the local businesses in our area that need our support!
At this point we have all certainly become accustomed to “going with the flow” and adjusting to the twists and turns this year has to offer. Wearing a mask in public may have seemed foreign at first, but is now becoming almost second nature. If you’re concerned about shopping safely this holiday season, reduced capacity and thorough sanitization procedures have been adopted to ensure customers are able to browse and shop (almost) worry-free. Still not ready to venture out into the retail world?
Many small businesses have adjusted to the pandemic’s new demand for curbside pick-up and have made major improvements to their websites, allowing for an easier and more convenient online ordering experience. While restaurants are currently required to limit capacity, take-out is a popular option among many customers who are unable to dine in. Purchasing gift cards directly supports restaurants and allows recipients to go out for dinner or grab dinner to-go, and many local bakeries and sweet treat shops are utilizing third-party delivery services such as DoorDash and Uber Eats to deliver baked goods and gifts to customers. Additionally, the websites and Facebook pages of stores, shops and boutiques will showcase their online purchasing options for a wide variety of exceptional gifts you can browse through in the comfort of your own home.
So, stop and think – by shopping local, you can shower your friends and family with unique finds and simultaneously give back to your community when it needs it the most. While the chaos will eventually subside and life will slowly resemble normalcy as time moves on, we want to ensure that our beloved local businesses, their owners, and their employees are able to celebrate the holiday season with us, this year and for many years to come.