The mom-and-pop shop you love needs you - The Orca
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The mom-and-pop shop you love needs you

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Jody Vance: In the pandemic, it’s never been more important to shop – and support – local.

In the unimaginable surreal shock that comes with more than a month of state-of-emergency lockdown, job loss, layoffs, and instant income evaporation, it has never been more vital to keep budgets tight.

Now more than ever before, it’s important to stretch our dollars, so here’s some free food for thought: it’s almost equally as important to be mindful of where we spend. Today’s Middle is a reminder of the importance of small businesses in BC.

Life was less about where we bought our toilet paper or hand sanitizer and all about simply getting it. Over the past month, it has been a sincere struggle to suss out supply chains.

Thankfully, as we stare down another month or more of “essential services only,” those frantic shopping excursions have calmed significantly – thanks to the truckers, warehouse workers, end everyone else keeping goods moving and shelves stocked in Canada. By all accounts, our country is managing the distribution of goods with great success.

This next phase of social disruption, as we become more accustomed to the rhythm of shopping once per week and minimized outings, it’s time to get strategic.

The strategy is to try to fill our needs with products made in Canada, or better still, the hyper-local made in BC.

Just as British Columbians have committed to being diligent at holding the line and flattening the curve, we can commit to being equally as impactful on our plans for when the economy reboots, simply by supporting our small businesses now. It’s about making choices each and every day that will lend a hand to a local business, even if it comes with a slightly higher cost.

A great example: support your local mom and pop restaurant for take out and tip far beyond pre-pandemic norms. There is a story out of Vancouver’s Dunbar community: a much-beloved Dairy Queen owner named Simon, who’s always been very active in the community with sponsorships, is getting grassroots support from community members purchasing massive gift certificates to help him bridge until the lockdown ends.

You might be asking yourself – when is that? Well…

In the restaurant business, narrow profit margins were a reality at the best of times. Some estimate that 75% of all independent restaurants that closed in the wake of the virus will never re-open.

Unanswerable questions are in large supply: When might restrictions be lifted? When might we have some semblance of normalcy? When might the economy recover?

The only real answer is nobody knows.

What we do know, and what we can find some relief in, is that measures taken in British Columbia are working. We should not ease up, but double down.

Sadly, many already-stretched and stressed local small businesses are on life support. Let’s help them dodge permanent closure by flattening their financial hardship curve.

We all have the ability to help. Choose your favourite places to #shoplocal and share the love. Tell your friends about where you go, and why. Tell the story of the people behind the storefront or restaurant, the services, and give ways we can all help out.

The engine of our community needs us – needs you – to make a concerted effort to shop local small businesses. With all due respect to big box stores and their hardworking employees, take today’s Middle as a gentle reminder to try and find the mom and pop in your ‘hood – and spend with them whenever possible.

Jody Vance is a born and raised Vancouverite who’s spent 30 years in both local and national media. The first woman in the history of Canadian TV to host her own sports show in primetime, since 2011 she’s been working in both TV and radio covering news and current affairs.

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