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EDITORIAL: Buy local

The long and winding road; Water Street as it snakes west to connect with George Street and Beck’s Cove in downtown St. John's.
Businesses on Water Street in downtown St. John’s, in those balmy days before Snowmageddon. — Telegram file photo

Sometimes, it takes a storm to make a point.

But don’t think about it for a day and just let it end there.

Right now, social media and a host of agencies are pointing out that local businesses took an absolute shellacking from the blizzard, and they need our help.

For the last few days, the exhortations have been clear and accurate: once you’re allowed out of your houses again, think hard about using your spending power to help your neighbours.

Particularly, use your spending power to help small local businesses that have had a week where no money came in, but where a lot of their expenses remained.

Here’s the take from St. John’s Board of Trade: “Our small businesses and entrepreneurs need your help! You have been stuck in the house for days! Cabin fever? Our small businesses, including restaurants, retail stores and hotels are looking forward to seeing you. We are encouraging everybody, if they can, get out and spend — support our small businesses!”

Local businesses cycle money through the economy on a full-time basis; the money they make is spent here on materials and labour, keeping suppliers going and paying rent.

Others are suggesting a sort of small business spending day — that, when you are allowed out your door, go directly to a small business and spend.

It’s a good argument.

But here’s a thought on that argument: while small local businesses have lost a crucial amount of sales during what is already a difficult and challenging part of the year — the post-Christmas slump — their impact in the marketplace is not a daily or weekly thing.

Local businesses cycle money through the economy on a full-time basis; the money they make is spent here on materials and labour, keeping suppliers going and paying rent.

The employees of those businesses are also all right here, and they are also spending the bulk of the money they make right here. (As are, to be fair, most members of the entire labour force.)

So, by all means, do get out and support local businesses — small, medium and large.

But don’t make it an effort for a day or even a week — instead of a one-time financial leg-up for businesses that clearly need your help to survive this past week, why not plan to help businesses that are owned by your neighbours, managed by your neighbours and staffed by your neighbours to be financially viable throughout the year?

We’re not saying you should simply turn your nose up at national businesses or international chains that offer value for your money and also employ a vast number of people in this community. What we are saying is that there are quality local goods and services that have obvious value to our small and often-struggling economy, businesses that offer diversity in products and a strong, home-grown local presence.

They need our help, especially right now.

But they could use your patronage year-round.

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