Letter: Small businesses are the heart and soul of communities

The editor:

It ain’t always easy, but it is still doable.

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I’m talking about doing a little local shopping here, right here in this age of COVID-19, sometimes referred to as Pandemic Panic, although it seems the panic portion has been significantly downplayed here in Saskatchewan of late.

So while we have witnessed the closing of several local and regional businesses due to COVID and the soon to arrive Son of COVID, the second wave, so-to-speak, we can also do some rejoicing in the fact that many and most of these businesses are now slowly coming back. Some have new restrictions in place for the well being of all involved, while others are celebrating the fact they are almost back to what was once, normal practices. Others, unfortunately, will not be back.

But, of course, nothing will ever be the same again. And, that’s what I fear, just a little bit.

First, let me inform you that while I am not necessarily a Luddite, I do profess to prefer doing some business in old-fashioned or traditional forms. I still write cheques to cover some monthly invoices. I prefer to use cash for smaller purchases rather than swipe, click or tap. I still go to the bank to do 85 per cent of my banking, because I wouldn’t like it if my local banks shut down shop because “you can do that online.”

I don’t want to do that online. I want that personal exchange of ideas and financial sentiments, smiles and small talk. ATM machines very rarely smile. I use them, but mostly just to follow my Five-C rules of getting cash so I can shop somewhere in which there are clerks, cashiers, consumers or clients.

We should do that folks. Shop locally that is.

I agree it’s easier to do the online stuff, especially now and especially if someone is compromised on the health scales. But really, is it necessary to do it all online?

Local businesses are the heart and soul of our communities. Over the years we have seen what happened when our “town” lost the railway and then the bus service. Or, when the elevator was closed and torn down and a school shuttered for a lack of bodies and the only service station gave up when it couldn’t give you that extra one-cent per litre discount they could in the city.

What’s happening here?

Everyone is finely tuned into Amazon and has been for some time. It’s a remarkable addition to our lifestyles.

But has Amazon purchased any vans, or delivery trucks from any Saskatchewan vehicle dealerships? They are boasting how they have gone full 21st century with television commercials, developed and filmed not in Saskatchewan, to be completely renewable resource fuelled within the next decade. No Amazon hub here though.

How many Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon, Etsy or Wayfair logos have you spotted on local minor hockey, soccer, baseball or softball uniforms? Have they ever provided local fund-raising initiative and/or leadership? Have they even participated? I know you have. 

Check your local property tax rolls. You probably won’t see any of those names. You probably won’t see those names on any Saskatchewan income tax, property or business tax roll calls either. These are companies that prefer to register their corporate beings in tax haven countries that boast of one or two per cent business or income tax rates.

These are the companies that give their CEOs and presidents tens to hundreds of millions of dollars a year in salaries and stock options … because they can, not because these people are that smart. They get to cash in while the worker bees have to cash out, especially during these difficult economic times that are accompanying the new health hazard.

So, we can’t tell you not to shop or visit online. That would be stupid. These cyber platforms have fully engaged us now. We drank the cyber storm, free for all Kool-Aid. But we can, maybe, raise your interest level just a bit as to what’s going on in your own “neck of the woods” in terms of business and product availability, delivered to you by people you probably know and can trust and who will actually talk with you (maybe through a mask) without you having to first submit a password or risk submitting an online credit or access card number.

Just saying … it’s your neighbourhood. What do you want to do with it?


Norm Park


© Copyright Estevan Mercury


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