Every year around this time, the CN&R makes a plea to readers to shop locally. The refrain goes something like this: Money spent at independent businesses owned by fellow residents gets reinvested into the community, including in the form of jobs.
Of course, this isn’t any ordinary holiday season. This is 2020, year of the COVID-19 pandemic, and December happens to fall during a surge of the virus. Therefore, we realize it may be more difficult than usual to keep your dollars here. The rub is that your support is perhaps more critical than ever. As Ashiah Scharaga reports this week in “Planning, adapting, closing,” some businesses are barely keeping their heads above water, while others have already succumbed to the economic downtown. As she notes, restaurants appear to be particularly vulnerable.
We certainly don’t want anyone to put their health at risk, so we’re not encouraging readers to frequent places that aren’t compliant with the state’s public health restrictions. Whomever you choose to patronize, we urge you to do so safely. In the case of restaurants, this includes dining outdoors while safely distanced from others or instead opting for take-out or delivery. In terms of retail establishments, we suggest shopping only at places that strictly enforce the use of masks, or buying their wares online and picking them up curbside.
In practice, helping the local economy means largely steering clear of Amazon and other giant online retailers. In Chico, one resource for those who want to both shop on the web and help sustain local outlets is the Downtown Chico Business Association’s new Online Marketplace (shop.downtownchico.com), a portal of products and website links through which many member businesses are conducting e-commerce for the first time.
We’re talking about the mom-and-pop enterprises that create the area’s eclectic commercial sector. You know, the places that protect Chico and the rest of the county from being swallowed by corporate chain sprawl and turning into a suburban hellscape.
Point is, your go-to spots—say, your favorite antiques store, jeweler and clothier—need decent receipts to keep the doors open and employees on the rolls. In short, readers, our pitch to you is simple: Support the businesses you want to see survive the pandemic.