And so it begins.
It’s the week after Thanksgiving and for many folks, this is when their Christmas shopping kicks into high gear. A tremendous amount of shoppers usually inundate the mercantile scene on Black Friday – either in a physical store or online – in normal circumstances.
But this year is so different. With the pandemic STILL an issue, virus cases on the rise, and so many governors issuing stay at home orders, shopping malls and physical stores must be reeling from lack of business, unless they have an online presence. So who do I think are going to be the hardest hit businesses? Our small shop owners.
Last Saturday marked the traditional “Small Business Saturday” when buyers are urged to shop locally in their own communities and patronize small businesses. With stay at home orders, that makes doing so difficult. And I truly wonder how many small shop owners have an online presence and delivery service.
So the easiest way to accomplish Christmas shopping if you can’t leave your house to do it in person, is order online and a myriad of boxes will be deposited on your own front porch.
You don’t have to leave your house or fight traffic, just scroll online and click away.
I suspect commercial merchants like the gargantuan company, Amazon, will reap major benefits as well as those other massive retailers like Walmart and Target from this style of Christmas shopping.
Call me a dinosaur, call me out of date, call me whatever you want to, but this style of shopping doesn’t sit well with me. I don’t want to shop online; I want to see the product I’m purchasing not just a digital image of it. I want to hold it in my hands and examine it.
And I want to support local businesses, local restaurants, and local small shops, who may not have websites but feasibly, we can’t accomplish that right now which troubles me.
It doesn’t just bother me, it actually saddens me. How many small shops, specialty stores, restaurants and cafes, not owned by chain franchises, but by people like you and me, will be forced to close their doors for good?
As autumn rolled around, we were still in the thick of social distancing but our state had opened up somewhat. Papa and I took one of our day-long road trips out and about. We headed northward in our state, mainly to observe fall foliage in what we call “the mountains.”
After stopping to eat a picnic lunch, we drove through a small town that I had been to several times when I was a youngster and my parents owned a camp “in the mountains” not too distant from the area we were driving through.
I hadn’t been there in many, many years and as we drove through that little town, we spied a picturesque cluster of shops, about a block long. We found a parking spot, donned our face masks, and ambled through the small “village.”
It consisted of a few diminutive shops, each in what might be called sheds. Of course because of social distancing, each tiny shop only allowed two masked visitors at a time inside. We entered each one, taking our turns, to peruse quaint and unique handcrafted wares inside.
Naturally, I pulled my camera out and snapped some photos. While doing so, a local gentleman began conversing with me and told me the story of how the little village-style shops came to be.
At one time, a large and popular non-chain restaurant once stood in that location, but a major fire broke out in it and decimated not just the restaurant but the entire block too. For 10 years, that block stood vacant until someone presented an idea to place temporary small shops as a kind of vendor market there in hopes of enticing summer tourists to visit the town once more.
The idea not only came to fruition but proved very successful when local artisans, along with the community, embraced the plan. The Tionesta Market Village has existed there for seven years now, has helped revitalize this small town, located in a rural area, and its economy, and has received accolades for its success in doing so.
According to the Market Village’s website, this unusual marketplace “represents what’s best about small town Americana…independent and self-reliant, willing to take a risk instead of hoping for a handout, and not wanting to wait for someone else to solve our problems.”
To me, that totally embodies the spirit of small town America and small business owners.
But now, I have to wonder…will those tiny shops survive? Will small shop owners ever recoup what they surely have lost in revenue because of the impact of this pandemic? And will they finally have to close up shop and abandon their dreams come true after all of their hard work?
I guess it all depends on us. Will we take the easy route and purchase from all of those large companies? I realize that those companies do employ some of our fellow Americans providing much needed income for them during this difficult time. I get that and I applaud that.
But still. Are we killing our small businesses? What can we do to help those owners stay afloat as well? Their livelihood depends on us.
How we spend our money makes a difference. Each purchase we make does impact our world, so let’s choose wisely.
“A small business is an amazing way to serve and leave an impact on the world you live in.” ~Nicole Snow