We have all spent the last few months battling an unseen enemy — hats off to our medical leaders, health care providers, first responders, food banks, and to all of you who continue to demonstrate incredible acts of kindness for our East End community during this difficult time.
However, many of our local merchants are facing another battle of outsize proportion that will eventually have a material effect on us all.
Our small businesses are have been operating at a loss and are now emerging to operate in a new normal. Yet, their new model includes having sufficient personal protective equipment, maintaining sanitary guidelines, dealing with less foot traffic to meet social distancing, while still looking toward the future.
So, why does it matter? One in four jobs stems from small businesses, so each closed business creates a ripple effect. Many of our local business members are volunteers for our EMS, fire departments, volunteer organizations such as Heart of the Hamptons or The Retreat, donate blood, and add to our vibrancy. They also donate tremendous amounts to local causes, as well as source locally, from farm produce to honey, soaps and equipment products.
They are a critical part of our ecosystem. Many are historic treasures and part of our community character.
Every click for Amazon is one less chance for our local proprietors to make it.
Contrary to belief, the majority of our stores are open — although, at the time of this writing, most nonessential businesses are only allowed one person to operate, so you will not see people bustling about. If you’re not sure someone is operating, simply call the business. Most will either answer or get back to you, or you can order online. They will be happy to hear from you. Curbside pick-up is easy, and often they will deliver. You can even buy gift cards today to be used in the future.
On a dreary rainy Saturday, a store owner called me out of the blue to check in, and, two hours later, she dropped off two needed household items.
Obviously, more has to be done to strategically to support our small businesses, including government actions, think tanks to address this new normal, strategically aligned with our arts, cultural and support organizations, and better social media and infrastructure investments (i.e., better internet and cable service, a sewer district).
But for the here and now, let’s help save our local businesses and buy local when we can. It may not be as convenient, but you might be surprised about the experience.
And, last, we hope you will extend the courtesy of wearing a mask when the stores reopen, for the well-being of all.
Ms. Allan is a Southampton Village Board member who is running for reelection in September — Ed.
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