In the words of Deon Cole, “Welp!” Covid-19 is stateside, more importantly, it has hit the Midwest and forced all bars, restaurants, and local shops to either close for an indeterminate amount of time or restrict business to curbside pick up. While larger corporations are likely feeling the blow in a society where people are being temporarily laid off, those that are feeling the impact of this change the most are small business owners.
I’ve seen so many posts of small business owners struggling, some of them posting GoFundMe pages in addition to transitioning sales to either an online or Instagram format. And while all of this is heartbreaking to hear and even write, there is a pivotal opportunity for all of us to “flatten the curve” that is effecting the small businesses and owners we have come to know and love: transition to shopping mostly or only local.
I know, it seems like a huge commitment with some of us being laid off or working reduced hours, but the transition doesn’t need to be grandiose or a large blow to your budget. It can be as simple as buying a bar of soap or a bottle of hand sanitizer from a local business. You’re going to buy it anyway, right? When I started looking local first, it was with small things. A bar of soap here, a bath bomb or two there, then it moved into jewelry, then clothes and so on. Do I sometimes shop at Target and Amazon? Yes. But, the frequency has drastically reduced in the last year or so.
Now is also a good time to make the transition because you are giving back to your community. The country as a whole is experiencing an economic downturn, the Dow hit a record low in a single day and we are all feeling it. Just as many of us are wondering when this craziness will end, so are local business owners. They may work for themselves, but they have effectively been laid off and the longer this “Social Distancing” continues, their threat of being jobless increases.
We are combatting this virus as a community by staying in our homes, but we should still be making an effort to support our community as well. After all, more money gets circulated back into the local economy when you shop local versus shopping large corporations, and our community is going to need those funds to recover once all of this is over.
While not every city is able to do this, many Kansas City businesses are offering curbside pick up from our favorite stores and restaurants. And while some of us may not be comfortable with this option, curbside pick up does allow you to 1. get out of the house and 2. remember what another human looks like even if you have to be 6 feet away from them. I might be an introvert by nature, but I enjoy the company of people about as much as any extrovert out there and humans are social creatures, so we are all craving some social time, even if its grabbing a bag from someone and driving away.
Shopping local doesn’t have to be hard and the responsibility isn’t just on you, it’s on all of us. If each of us pulls together and commits to swapping out one essential purchase (i.e. soap, hand sanitizer, tea, booze [totally essential]) with a local option, we can do a lot of good for our local businesses. So, will you join in and make the commitment with me?