Our New Normal Isn’t Normal

I’m upset today. Not only because so many small businesses are still closed or have gone out of business entirely. What’s happened is tragic, and in that sense, I am beyond upset.

I’m mostly upset this morning at the fact that state and local governments forced small businesses to close in the name of slowing the spread of Covid-19, but gave preferential treatment to the big box stores and regional chains. Mom and Pop are closed for an indeterminate amount of time, but we can still buy pretty much anything we need at Wal-Mart or by ordering online from Amazon. Oh, and don’t forget the liquor stores and marijuana dispensaries that are considered “essential” and didn’t close in many cases.

As of writing this article, over 30 million Americans have lost their jobs. Where do the unemployed have to turn in the hopes of landing a new job? The local coffee shop or restaurant down the street? Nope. In many cases, they have closed their doors for good.

As a matter of fact, Wal-Mart and Amazon have been closing the doors of main street businesses for a long time with impunity. Ironically, Amazon and Wal-Mart are both hiring at an unprecedented pace. They’re thriving as main street has shut its doors. Think for a second about the business owner who has to make the impossible decision to give up her dream and is forced to apply for a position at Wal-Mart or Amazon, simply to put food on the table. That will be our new normal if we allow it.

I don’t mean to imply that all businesses have closed over the past few months. Thankfully, some were allowed to stay open in some capacity. But, what about the majority who will need to play catch up when this is all over? Those who have spent years and decades building their business the right way, without cutting corners? Nice and easy, right?

Many will be forced to go against everything they know and like the rabbit sprinting out of the gate against the proverbial turtles of the world (Wal-Mart, Amazon and the like), the marathon becomes a sprint for survival. We all know how that story ends, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Historically, it’s been extremely hard for most businesses to compete against the big-box stores and the online giants to begin with. Introduce Covid-19 into the picture. Our new normal has struck fear in the hearts of our customers. People are rightfully scared. Will they come back? Only if our local places are open for business…

Together, we need to do everything we can to support local businesses in the short term, and also long term. As a community, we need to demand that the powers-that-be make some serious decisions and policy changes to allow our local businesses to open their doors, maintain, and grow their customer bases.  In the short term, we need our businesses open. We are all fully-capable of social distancing and protecting each other without oversight or politics thrown in the mix.

In the longer term, we need our cities, states, and our federal government to promote local business instead of handing out massive tax incentives to the Amazons and Wal-Marts of the world. We need to demand this, and if we don’t, our “new normal” will seem like a daydream compared to the nightmare we will be living in if big box stores and online shopping replace our local businesses permanently.

Don’t think it can happen? I hope you’re right. Our economy was built on the backs of hardworking American entrepreneurs and business owners who dedicated their careers and lives to help boost our local economies. Together, we can ensure that all of that hard work wasn’t in vain; all of those long days and nights weren’t for nothing; but we were setting the stage for greater things to come. Only we can make sure that’s the case, and this is our chance to change things for the better for a long time to come.

#supportlocal #shoplocal #buylocal #projectbuylocal

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