Saturday, May 23, 2020

A New Emerging Market | Why local businesses need you more than ever post-pandemic

Nelvin C. Cepeda/The San Deigo Union-Tribune 

By Dominick Hiddo

This week starts the further re-opening of many more cities, states and their respective businesses around the world, as we all prepare to deal with the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic. Contrarily, many other cities, states, and countries are extending their lockdowns to ensure that they come out of this pandemic in the healthiest and safest way possible: for the sake of the people and the economy. The reality is that there will be no set formula for reengaging and reintegrating society back to a perfect state of normalcy. The reason being is that this situation has affected everyone differently, leaving some worse off than others. But, as we start to slowly get back to our new normal, we will notice that some businesses will continue to thrive and get back on track as if they never missed a beat. The unfortunate part of this situation is that there may be a slew of businesses that will not make it through this pandemic. With many people thinking about saving their money, balancing budgets, and figuring out their employment situation due to furloughs and layoffs, anything beyond the essentials may not be top of mind. As a result, the business that would have relied on this excessive nature of our consumer behavior may falter. So how do we balance this situation? How do we help our communities that were once bustling streets of shopping and engagement from becoming depressive ghost towns?

During this time, we urge you to support the businesses in your area and in your community directly. And when we say this, we mean that you should consider supporting the businesses in your area in totality. We have to drive this point home because in this day and age—and I confess of doing this as well—we tend to buy some items in our neighborhood, some items in other neighborhoods, and many other things online through our favorite purveyors. While this is ideal for our personal needs, it takes away from the strength and profitability of the businesses in our area. That being said, here are some ways you can think about supporting your local business as we move through this post-pandemic period.

Local supermarket
It is quite alright to shop on the various online food markets available. We just have to decide when we take this action, do we want to continue to take away from the thriving local markets. Make some time to go to the supermarket. Let's be honest here, not all supermarkets are the best: they don't have the products we like, they are always crowded, they are too expensive, service is subpar, etc. I'm sure you could come up with a list of reasons to not go. But there are some really fantastic markets out there. So if you must venture a bit out of your immediate area, try to find a market that is relatively close to where you live. They need your business: and you need to eat.

The Farmer's Market
Howard Lipin/U-T
This is probably our favorite option. While there are likely not many thriving farms with open markets close by to where you live, you can support the farmer's markets because they come down a few times a week into major city areas to bring the freshest seasonal foods to your community. The ability of farmer's markets to bring in small batch creations, farm fresh foods with no chemicals or antibiotics, and the healthiest options from grains to dairy makes it all worth the while. As we try our best to maintain optimal health during these times, eating local foods help our body to better adapt to the environment around us and supports our immune system. When you eat foods that are locally produced, your body is less likely to be sick often because you are eating things that come from a similar environment as you do. There is nothing wrong with eating foods from other places: I do it often. However, it is important to make sure that the higher balance of your foods are coming from a local purveyor. Some things that you should always buy at a farmer's market: honey, eggs, milk, meats, breads, yogurt, vegetables, fruits (when possible), grains, maple syrup.

Bakeries and Coffee Shops
Damien Meyer/Getty Images
Oftentimes when we have commuted to work, we buy coffee or baked goods at our conveniently-located favorite place. Sometimes that place is found close to the place we work, or even at our place of work. But now more than ever, it is so important to support that local bakery and that local coffee shop with your business. If during this pandemic you have grown accustomed to baking more and making your own coffee more, maybe support your local business by buying fresh grounded coffee from them. We've been doing that since March and we've grown quite fond of our morning home brews.

Local Restaurants 
I've noticed some of them have opened back up over the past couple weeks limited to only take-out and delivery. Support them as well. When you don't feel like cooking anymore or are getting tired of your own cooking, use this time to support those restaurants that you used to support. Buy lunch from them, buy dinner from them. If you can afford it, support them a few times a week. Because I hate to say it, but some of them are not going to make it. The economic devastation has yet to be seen to the restaurant industry and will only come to head as we move into the summer. So in the meantime, make an effort to get a great meal from your favorite restaurant. Because one day, it may not be there.

Local Pharmacies
We live in an age where the presence of Walgreens, Duane Reade, CVS, Rite-Aid, and Amazon have dominated the needs of customers when it comes to pharmaceutical, medical, and vitamin needs. These major corporations have dominated so much that they at times even feel like our local pharmacy. However, if you look close enough in your local community, I guarantee you will find a small pharmacy hidden deep within the stream of retail store fronts that you have never paid any attention to. Well, I am here to say that they need you as well. Make some time to take a spin in their aisles just to understand what the offering may be. It is possible that they may have even been there in your neighborhood way before the big corporations made their presence known. So get to know them a bit. They may surprise you in what they have to offer. 

The moral of the story here is support your local spots. Your smartphone has probably spoiled you so much that you probably don't even know what markets or shops are even good locally because you have the superhuman ability to order anything you want at a few clicks of a button. But in a time where we may have been staring at our phones much too long, take a break and take a walk or a short drive to see what your little neighborhood has to offer within the mile radius of where you live. Those local businesses will all be so grateful to have you come in to their shop. They will thank you. Your community will thank you: and you will be thankful. Take this time post-pandemic to be an advocate of the businesses in your own neighborhood.  
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