Shop local. Your merchants need you

It’s the plea you hear in communities big and small in the weeks leading up to Christmas each year.

Shop local.

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Your dollars stay in the community and enrich the community where you live. They help support charities, kids organizations, recreation facilities and cultural groups.

And when you shop local, your dollars are going to support local entrepreneurs and create jobs in the community.

We hear it all the time down here, because the people of southeast Saskatchewan live in small cities, towns, villages and on farms. But in recent years, that message has been growing in bigger centres, including Regina.

This year, you’re likely to hear about the importance of shopping locally more than ever, because it’s more important than ever to do so.

One of the recurring messages to occur from the COVID-19 pandemic is the need to support local businesses. Whether it be clothing retailers, home improvement outlets, electronics stores, furniture businesses or restaurants, people are thinking about where they spend their money more than ever.

(If you’re looking to do the right thing and shop locally this year, there’s a great Christmas catalogue that you can find in this week’s Mercury).

Those who have been banging the shop local drum for years are no longer being greeted by eye rolls and frustration.

Our local business community weathered the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring. They did so by adapting their business models and, when possible, adding online shopping. Many didn’t have online shopping as an option before, but they do now.

And they have had to adapt again since reopening in the spring and summer, as they have had to serve customers while worrying about the number of people allowed in the business and extensive cleaning protocols – things they haven’t had to think about in the past.

Entrepreneurs should have to worry about tracking the latest trends, keeping their employees happy and meeting their customers’ needs, and not sanitizing the counter after each use.

We don’t know what’s going to happen in the next few weeks if it comes to a lockdown in Saskatchewan. The provincial government said before they wouldn’t go into a lockdown, but that was before we’d seen 100 new cases of COVID-19 in a day. Now our seven-day average is north of 200.

There are those who would like to see a lockdown, or a circuit-breaker as some groups are calling, it, but as of Tuesday morning, the province had said no. And we hope a lockdown will not be coming.

Another lockdown would be devastating for so many, especially for retailers just before Christmas. If we shut the economy down now for four weeks, we’ll be closed pretty much until Dec. 25.

If we do get locked down again, you can be sure that our local retailers will be there to meet our needs, although it will be through online shopping and curbside pickup.

So it’s important for us to be there for our business community, by supporting them, just as they have supported us.

These are the companies that donate to local fundraisers, that support healthcare in our communities, that sponsor hockey teams and donate to theatre groups. They’re doing their part to ensure that people get a hearty meal on Christmas day and that kids get to open a present.

They’re still being very generous with their support for the community, even though the money might not be there like it was in the past.

And they’re creating jobs for those who work in their businesses.

They’re doing all of this because they care, because they love the communities where they live, and because they believe in doing the right thing.

Even if you do go to a chain retailer, most of them are locally-owned and managed franchises.

When you shop local, you aren’t sending your money to a retailer headquartered in Seattle, where the upper management couldn’t find Saskatchewan on a map, let alone spell it properly. When we see Amazon purchase a table at a hospital foundation fundraiser, then maybe we’ll encourage you to support them.

So over the next few weeks, support local. Shop local. Even if it’s online shopping, support your community.

© Copyright Estevan Mercury

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ESTEVAN WEATHER

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