Everyone is weary of the pandemic and the restrictions it creates. As a community it is very tempting to say “bah, humbug” about the whole holiday season and bag it until next year. Or to …
Everyone is weary of the pandemic and the restrictions it creates. As a community it is very tempting to say “bah, humbug” about the whole holiday season and bag it until next year. Or to streamline the celebrations until they are reduced to a few clicks of the computer mouse and have Christmas auto-shipped to loved ones.
Our jaded minds tell us it is OK to do that, even down to having our holiday meals drop shipped to our doorsteps. For some residents, those who are at the highest level of risk for developing severe consequences should they suffer the virus, that is the better part of valor. And needless to say those who are ill should stay home and isolated.
But the rest of us just aren’t that busy. This year more than perhaps any other in the past, shopping local means everything. Just as many of us are struggling with tightened means, whether from the results of the restrictions or the plummet in the oil and gas industry, so the struggle is shared by local businesses we know and appreciate.
That struggle goes beyond whether the same businesses will remain viable until the virus is under control. The ripple effect can be devastating to a tight-knit community. If even one employee is laid off, it isn’t just that person who takes the hit.
If that person has to move away, their children leave the school system. Much of the funding the schools get is based on the number of students it serves. Fewer students, fewer dollars. The hit on the schools grows when the students leaving were eligible for free or reduced meals, because that eligibility brings in federal enrichment dollars not tied to nutrition programs, dollars that help schools immensely.
A dwindling population also can reduce property taxes paid, which also impacts the schools.
Just like the ripples created when a pebble is dropped into a pond, the loss of a single job washes up multiple shores.
This is not to minimize the risks of going out to shops and stores or to advocate large gatherings in unsafe circumstances.
The intent is to suggest instead of clicking a button, placing a call to a local store where clerks are well acquainted with the inventory and can suggest or even select items for purchase. Most will also complete the transaction and deliver it nearly contact free to your vehicle. It is to encourage visiting various establishments — masked and distanced — to make one’s own selections. It is to urge choosing to contact an area artisan for a photo shoot or individualized, handmade gift that will last long after this dark season has passed. Call up a florist to have joy delivered across town or to your office.
It is to advocate purchasing grocery needs at area stores for those small intimate gatherings, or calling a local rancher or other producer to buy from them, keeping dollars circulating at home.
It is to propose that while it may seem more expedient to shop online from isolation, the repercussions that those actions may create can devastate a community. Businesses shuttered, buildings empty, residents leaving, jobs drying up are the lasting effects of not shopping local.
In the days of COVID-19, those businesses are going above and beyond to supply customers and clients with their needs and wants, delivering them with minimal risk to either party.
With a vaccine or vaccines on the horizon, it does seem that the time is coming soon when life can resume its normal cadence. Let’s make sure when it does, there is a “normal” to come back to.