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Editorial: Now’s the time for us to support one another

Editorial Board • Jun 11, 2020 at 11:15 PM

Stores, restaurants, service facilities and other businesses are the lifeblood of any community and the driving force behind the local economy. It takes a lot of work to open a new retail business and grow a community, but they can be gone in a flash.

Witness Pier 1 in Bristol, Piccadilly in Kingsport, Fuddruckers in Johnson City, Beef ‘O’ Brady’s in Elizabethton, and IHOP in each of the Tri-Cities, among others. While these were not the classic “local business,” they employed local people, and some were owned by franchisees from here.

No doubt, we’ll lose more local retailers who find it all the more difficult to reopen in the middle of a pandemic. Many will require more staff even as indoor service space shrinks to comply with social distancing. That increases overhead and lowers profit, and some of these businesses we depend on are only scraping by.

If we want to keep them, we must support them. Government is helping, but it’s not enough. It’s up to us.

It’s not just the jobs we lose when an owner calls it quits. Our retailers recycle a much larger share of their revenue back into the local economy, enriching the whole community and supporting the tax base. When we lose them, their share of local property taxes is eventually redistributed to the rest of us. The loss of their sales taxes means our tax share responsibility increases ever so slightly or municipal services take the hit.

Our retailers add to the character of our communities. They are managed locally by people who live with us and make decisions as members of the community who will feel the impact of those decisions. As we support local stores, they in turn support us.

Restaurants need your help. If you don’t dine in, order food to-go from your favorite local restaurant, and don’t forget to tip. What better gift for a neighbor, especially if elderly, than a wonderful meal, hot and fresh from a local restaurant?

Our flower shops and salons, our local stores and big-box providers need your help. They are struggling as we are to make ends meet as we all try to find the new normal. Our business community employs family, friends and neighbors, and by supporting them, we help ourselves. Social distancing is in effect and most (unfortunately not all, and shame on them) stores have accommodated it by marking your path as you shop. It’s not difficult to stay a safe distance from other customers.

If you’re stuck at home, there are services that will deliver groceries and meals. If you have a regular hairdresser or barber, or a business owner that depends on you and other regular clients, support them even if you can’t get out at the moment. Buy gift cards for birthdays or just hold onto them until you can stop by.

Visit the farmers market. Our local farms are also struggling and rely on your business either directly at the market or because they sell to local restaurants and grocery stores. 

Many of our neighbors are out of work, and they could use some income. If you’ve got a home project you need help with, whether it’s just lawn care or something that needs fixing around the home, put an ad for help in the Times News, and you’ll have plenty of takers. And it also helps if you can give a local business a good review on social media.

We’ve repeatedly heard that we’re all in this together. It’s absolutely true. Let’s focus on supporting each other.

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