How you can help your lo­cal busi­nesses

The Standard (St. Catharines) - - News - JOHN BOYN­TON TORSTAR PRES­I­DENT AND CEO John Boyn­ton is pres­i­dent and CEO, Torstar Cor­po­ra­tion

As more and more of us are tak­ing the ad­vice of pub­lic health ex­perts and are prac­tis­ing so­cial dis­tanc­ing or self-iso­la­tion, huge num­bers of small busi­nesses in our lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties are feel­ing the im­pact.

Restau­rants and bars have been forced to close and many other lo­cal shops, stores and con­sumer ser­vice busi­nesses — from nail sa­lons to small neigh­bour­hood fit­ness clubs — are shut­ting down be­cause of a lack of cus­tomers as­so­ci­ated with the COVID-19 out­break.

Op­er­at­ing a small busi­ness is of­ten tough at most times, but th­ese are un­prece­dented days. In­deed, a drop in busi­ness over the com­ing weeks be­cause of COVID-19 could force some lo­cal busi­nesses to close for­ever, push­ing their own­ers into bank­ruptcy and their em­ploy­ees out of jobs.

The news­pa­pers and news web­sites owned by Torstar Cor­po­ra­tion have long been sup­port­ive of small, lo­cal busi­nesses in all the com­mu­ni­ties they serve across On­tario. We be­lieve small busi­nesses are crit­i­cal to the suc­cess, strength and eco­nomic vi­tal­ity of com­mu­ni­ties large and small.

And so, in th­ese in­creas­ingly un­cer­tain times when lo­cal busi­nesses need the sup­port of all of us, we’re urg­ing our read­ers and our com­mu­ni­ties to offer their help – to show their love – for their favourite shops and stores. There are ways all of us can help – even if we are stuck at home:

Shop lo­cally: Many small stores are still open, al­beit some with greatly re­duced op­er­at­ing hours. If you must leave your home to buy some goods, think of your nearby stores. And if you can’t get out­side, many lo­cal shops have part of their in­ven­tory on­line and they will deliver to your door.

Buy gift cards: Pur­chas­ing a gift card from a lo­cal busi­ness is a way of get­ting money to a store owner now, when they need it the most.

Or­der take­out or de­liv­ery:

Some restau­rants and shops are of­fer­ing op­tions like home de­liv­ery or easy pickup ser­vice as a way to min­i­mize any hu­man-to-hu­man con­tact. Con­sider or­der­ing at least one meal a week this way.

Tip more: It’s a bad time to be a cof­fee-shop worker or a de­liv­ery driver be­cause they are likely work­ing shorter hours and get­ting fewer tips be­cause of fewer cus­tomers. If you can af­ford it, think about giv­ing a big­ger tip the next time th­ese work­ers serve you.

Urge govern­ment ac­tion: True, our gov­ern­ments are of­fer­ing some help, but they haven’t grasped just how se­vere the eco­nomic cri­sis is for many small busi­ness own­ers, ac­cord­ing to Dan Kelly, head of the Cana­dian Fed­er­a­tion of In­de­pen­dent Busi­ness, the country’s largest small-busi­ness as­so­ci­a­tion. You can help by email­ing your lo­cal mayor, provin­cial MPP and fed­eral MP and re­quest­ing they con­sider fur­ther as­sis­tance.

Say thanks: At a time when all of us are stressed, it may ease the anx­i­ety of lo­cal busi­ness own­ers just a bit if they know their cus­tomers are think­ing of them and ap­pre­ci­ate all they have done for their com­mu­nity.

Such signs of help – and oth­ers that you can likely think of – are needed more than ever now.

Please show your sup­port.

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