During the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the crisis we in Robeson County endured with Hurricanes Matthew and Florence, there have been numerous posts on social media encouraging people to “buy local” and avoid “chain” restaurants and businesses in order to support local businesses. I’d like to offer a different perspective.
These are unprecedented times and the challenges of doing and staying in business are complicated. Let me be clear – – – I buy local. I support outstanding local businesses, ”mom and pop” shops such as florists, butchers, restaurants, dry cleaners, healthcare, gift shops, etc. Most are operated by dear friends or friendly acquaintances, and I am concerned for them right now. I continue to support them in any way I can. But why are “chains” not considered local? Those “chains” employ LOCAL RESIDENTS (and are often locally owned), and if they have no business, those JOBS will disappear. Employees of those LOCAL businesses spend their paychecks on shelter, groceries, daycare, etc. in the LOCAL economy. Those “chains” sponsor your kids’ ball teams, educational programs in local schools, contribute to local non-profits, provide scholarships to area colleges, and bring the arts to our area. Those “chains” are often the first to be able to provide desperately needed services to the community after a storm. I get it – – – we absolutely need to support small business to help them survive, but be careful how you define “small” business. Our “small” local business employs incredibly hardworking, talented people who not only support this community, but spend their paychecks here at other “small” local businesses.
But let’s take it a step further – – – why must we adopt an “us vs. them” mindset in the first place? Instead of advocating one way or the other, why don’t we all just support ONE ANOTHER?? Folks, if Hurricanes Matthew and Florence taught us anything, it’s that the only way we will get through any crisis (COVID-19 included) is by working TOGETHER and looking out for one another. Commit to support everyone in your local community. Given our current challenges and social distancing, it will require thinking creatively and compassionately. Respect one another, be kind, offer a good word, choose to do the right things and be the right people. I promise you, our community will be better because of it.