Black Friday is here but it really doesn’t matter. I’ve been seeing Black Friday sales all week and I’m sure they’ll continue into next. My inbox has been flooded with emails, all with the subject line “Black Friday Sale!” And those annoying political ads on TV have been replaced with annoying Black Friday ads. Everywhere we look, we are reminded that it’s time to shop! Now! And all the way up to Christmas!
I’m not going to tell you not to shop because you won’t listen and neither will I. Although my family places little emphasis on gifts and way more on the joy of togetherness, the peace of singing “Oh, Holy Night” at our church’s candlelight service, and the fun of games and traditions we look forward to each year, we still exchange presents, as I’m sure you do.
So instead, I’m going to encourage you to rethink how you shop this year and make a concerted effort to put your money back into our local community. In other words, shop local.
I think it’s fair to say that our local business owners have never faced the hardships they are facing in the year of Covid-19. Many have shuttered their businesses, unable to pay rent when the cash register remains silent all day. that have served our community for decades have gone under, quietly, but devastatingly. Even the indomitable Mattress Mack has commented that “the Amazon factor” has played a part in his decision to reduce inventory and floor space in his massive Gallery Furniture store.
As local residents of the Fort Bend and Katy areas, we need to step up to help these business owners stay in business. For years, they have sponsored our little league teams, bought Girl Scout cookies, underwritten fundraisers, and shown up for any need during a crisis, including Hurricane Harvey. If we don’t support them now, they won’t be around to support us.
As you work your way through your Christmas list, think about the local stores that carry what you are looking for. Put on your mask, and go visit them. I’ve done it, and almost every time, they thank me for coming in and tell me how much they appreciate the business. They don’t need to, though, because I can see it in the crinkle of their eyes, their smiles hidden behind their masks. Relief that someone – anyone – has stepped inside their store, perused the merchandise, and bought something. Because for months, that hasn’t happened.
And while you’re out shopping, stop into a local restaurant and grab some lunch. You’ll see the gratitude there, as well. My husband and I were out for dinner recently, the only diners in a local restaurant with excellent service and equally excellent food. No fewer than three employees came to our table to thank us for coming in.
We’ve all grown more grateful for the little things, thanks to Covid. What we used to take for granted pre-pandemic now feels like a treat. The same goes for business owners who desperately need the normalcy they used to take for granted. Without it, they will lose everything.
Yes, Amazon is tempting. It’s easy. You never need to leave the comfort of your couch. But aren’t you sick of your couch? I’ve seen way too much of mine since March. And practically speaking, your local establishments offer you so much more: American-made goods; a chance to try on, hold, and see a product with your own eyes; real people with which to engage; and a sense that you really did put effort and thought into a gift for a loved one, versus clicking a Buy Now button.
Our local businesses need us. We need them. It’s a beautiful, symbiotic relationship, one that if we neglect, will harm our community and leave us with nothing but Big Box stores. If that alone doesn’t sway you, take a walk through Wal-Mart today. That ought to do it