Among the byproducts of the Covid 19 Pandemic has been the decimation of too many small businesses. No matter what we may think of the major retailers from which we make purchases – brick and mortar establishments like major supermarkets, department stores, big-box retailers, restaurant chains and national franchisors, or large online sellers, most of them have sustained the many tribulations caused directly by the pandemic. But when you cruise through your favorite shopping districts, whether in big cities or smaller towns, the vast number of empty store fronts and closed shops are all the proof one needs to see how so many small, independent businesses were negatively impacted.
In truth, small business is the life-blood of our nation’s economy. The more suffering there is to small business, the bigger the impact to the average individual or family. When the mom and pop stores of our communities have trouble keeping their doors open and their inventories stocked, the worse the impact.
It’s those small businesses that keep millions of people employed. It’s that small, regional trucking company that keeps goods moving and shelves stocked. It’s the independent book seller that will go out of their way to source a book for you. It’s the tiny 50 seat nightclub that hosts local talent and gives aspiring and experienced talent a stage to hone their craft and provide entertainment. It’s the eatery where they know your favorite dish and favorite table. It’s the local bank that provides loans to those same small businesses so they can expand their spaces, enact overdue repairs and make payroll. It’s the local farmers markets where growers and producers bring their harvests to feed you and your family. It’s the artists, craftspeople, plumbers, electricians, locksmiths, doctors, nurses, teachers and more! The list is long!
It’s no secret that small business generally can’t provide the same level of salary and benefits that larger employers can. For many workers in these environments those lower salaries translate to fewer dollars to spend at other businesses, small or large. But in reality, those who work these jobs have to show the same commitment and dedication as anyone who works for a large tech firm. Sure, the skill sets are different, but small business workers must perform their required tasks the same as anyone else, regardless of their position.
Your local small businesses add so much to your community. In addition to the contributions they make to the local economy and taxes that help pay for services like fire and police, small businesses are where people meet and discuss issues of local importance. Those casual interactions with other local residents and shop keepers affect politics, town management, emergency response and support, neighbor recognition, as well as awareness of major issues that impact you and other residents alike. These personal interactions are far more important than the community web page.
And equally important, small business is frequently a starting point for young people getting their first tastes of the world of work. Whether it’s their first part-time after school job, summer gig or a full time position to help pay for tuition, or for someone who is returning to work after a long employment hiatus, working for local small businesses can provide people with a sense of worth, belonging, contributing, and the growth of their self-esteem. They learn more about following instructions, listening and taking orders from managers, and thinking and acting independently. They learn to use the skills they already have, build their work ethic, demonstrate their motivation, have something to put on a resume when they look for their next job, and learn new skills along the way. It also puts a few bucks in their pockets that they will most likely spend locally.
Those are just a few reasons to support and work for local business. Others reasons like convenience, shorter commutes, more time with family and friends, and family care all play into the decision to stay local. For just as many reasons, local doesn’t always work for everyone. And that’s fine. But the more we support local, in the long run it’s better for the community, its residents, the economy, and the planet!
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