| Perspective |

Shop Local!

It’s time for all of us to step up to the plate and support our struggling small business owners. It’s time for us to shop locally

 

Our local small businesses are hurting and they need our help.

First, they endured the pandemic lockdown last spring, which was difficult enough. Then on Chol Hamoed Succos came a second round of closures, forcing store owners to close their doors yet again. Throughout these difficult shutdowns, small businesses bore the brunt of these excessive lockdowns. As a result, many of our neighbors are unfortunately drowning in debt and on the verge of bankruptcy.

But there is light at the end of the tunnel. Our neighborhood’s mass testing efforts have made a significant impact. We have emerged from red zone status and our small businesses have reopened. Now it’s time for all of us to step up to the plate and support our struggling small business owners. It’s time for us to shop locally.

Small business owners are just like you and me. They work hard to support their families. Just like the rest of us, they need to pay rent, sign tuition checks, make mortgage payments, and provide for their family’s daily needs. They need to survive this pandemic financially. And we need to be there for them.

Our Sages teach us that even more important than offering tzedakah to the poor is teaching them a trade so they will be able to support themselves in a respectful manner. Our struggling small business owners are a step ahead. They already have a trade. They’re proud of the businesses that they’ve built up from scratch, and they’ve acquired tremendous expertise in their chosen fields. We now have the opportunity to shop at their stores and utilize their goods and services. Let’s help them rebuild their businesses in a dignified manner. Their survival depends on us.

Over the past few months, many of us have grown accustomed to shopping at big box stores or online. While Amazon may be convenient, it doesn’t compare to the personal care and attention we get when we shop at our local stores. Our business owners are looking forward to serving us, sharing their experience and their wisdom, and catering to our personal needs.

Nobody at Amazon will tell you if the shoes fit your toddler properly or if that sefer would make the perfect bar mitzvah gift. You could read a hundred reviews online, but only your local shopkeeper can help you choose the right food processor for your kugel recipe, the perfect tie to match your new suit, or the most appropriate tallis bag for the new chassan. And nobody at Walmart will smile at your little one and call him a “tzaddikel” or inquire about your mother-in-law’s health.

Our small businesses need us, but we need them too. They are essential to us just as we are to them. They add flavor and charm to our neighborhoods. They reflect the interests of the local community. And they help stimulate the local economy. Chanukah gift-giving season is upon us, and there’s no better time to patronize our local stores. Investing in small businesses is an investment in our neighborhood’s future.

Unfortunately, we have lost too many, too much, and too soon. Undoubtedly, this pandemic isn’t over yet. We all must remain vigilant, wear masks, and practice social distancing to the extent possible. Our small businesses recognize their responsibility to keep us safe and healthy. They are taking the necessary precautions at their stores, but they need us to survive. And we need them to keep our neighborhoods vibrant and thriving.

Please join me in this endeavor. Our community is strong, and we have the power to work wonders. Let’s join forces in shopping locally and supporting our small business owners. Let’s do it for ourselves, for our local shop owners, and for the community at large. I’m confident that we will succeed. This is who we are.

Assemblyman Simcha Eichenstein represents the 48th Assembly District, which includes Boro Park and Midwood, in the New York State Assembly.

(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 836)

 

Oops! We could not locate your form.