A strained system pushed to its limits
During the past 20+ months, businesses of all sizes have had to grapple with the tumultuous and lasting impacts of COVID-19. Overnight and in an instant, our buzzing commercial corridors went eerily silent. Activity came to a standstill. Certain operations became essential, while others struggled to determine what happens next. Here in the U.S., our federal system stepped in and raced to provide relief where possible. Even after all of this, many businesses went permanently dark, while others continue to battle with uncertainty across the globe.
Our supply chains have been totally upended. There has been no end in sight when it comes to shortages, be it workers, raw materials, essential goods, and services, for a variety of reasons. We have been left to examine our methods of production, distribution, and consumption, as well as the fragile network we often take for granted. Now more than ever, we must assess our ways of doing business and build a system that meets the demands of the 21st century in a more flexible and sustainable manner.
Why shop small?
All of this has made the world feel just a little smaller, at least for me. At the height of social distancing guidelines, my world became just a few short blocks in any direction of South Philly. I’m sure many readers will have had a similar experience. The pandemic has given me a new perspective on the global and local dynamics at play. As we edge closer to the holiday season, I can’t help but have these issues at the forefront of my decision-making process for buying gifts this year.
I’ll be the first to admit, during this ongoing ordeal, I have focused less on where I purchase everyday items, and more about will I be able to actually get those items within a reasonable timeframe. For me, I hope to never see a run on toilet paper or milk at the local market ever again. But on a more profound level, as I look around my neighborhood, I no longer just see storefronts. I see investment in my community. I see neighbors who have boldly continued to serve residents as best they can with what resources they have. I see the money I spend as a more meaningful tool that directly impacts the place where I work and reside.
Research produced by ESI has shown that every dollar you spend at a small business creates, on average, an additional 50 cents of economic activity. That’s money which cycles back into our communities through additional spending. That’s investment in your favorite local coffee shop, bookstore, theater, hair salon, restaurant, and more. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and are vital to establishing a sense of place within our towns and cities. So, for this holiday season (and all of 2022 and beyond) make sure you consider the immense power that comes with every purchase and transaction you take part in.
Things to consider
- Shop local, when feasible
- Consider joining your local food co-op
- Purchase gift cards from your favorite local spots this holiday season
- Consider donating to local organizations and businesses (whether its time or financial) that support your community
- Make sure to lend your voice by providing positive online reviews of your experiences
- Visit a new neighborhood or commercial corridor and discover your new favorite place
Mike Daly is a Senior Business Development and Marketing Associate at Econsult Solutions, Inc. (ESI), where he supports the marketing and business development team. In addition to assisting with proposals, he is responsible for enhancing ESI’s brand and work through traditional and social media, content development for the web, and managing the ESI blog, Present Value.