Last weekend, hubby and I were laughing about how little we’ve traveled the last five months. I have traveled as far north as Tower Lake, when my sisters and I got lost looking for a specific location and did a little 4x4ing in my wee Toyota RAV because Google Maps was messing with me. I have not traveled west or south at all, and have gone east to Grande Prairie twice for medical appointments.
That’s the extent of my travel. We haven’t even gone camping yet this year because Mother Nature has been messing with us on a daily basis!
During the past five months we have stayed close to home which included shopping local for almost everything — 99% of the time we could find what we were looking for without having to order online or go out of town. We would challenge ourselves: Do we really need to go to XYZ to get that big package of toilet paper? The answer was, no, we don’t.
It’s been refreshing, as I have been able to reconnect with my community and, more specifically, the owners of the small businesses in the community. It’s felt good to support local knowing that I am giving back to those business owners who have always answered my call for a donation or said yes to participating in a community event.
If we don’t support our local businesses during this time, we will lose them. They are doing their absolute best to work within the COVID-19 guidelines and continue to offer their products and services.
Sometimes we can’t find what we are looking for and that’s because manufacturing and shipping has been affected or supply can’t quite meet the demand. A store owner reminded me that if you don’t find what you’re looking for, ask them if and when the product will be back in stock, or if they might be able to order it for you instead of turning to Amazon to place a rush order. They need our repeat business – not just now, but after COVID. Shopping locally needs to be a habit.
I have been in awe of our local businesses who have adapted their business models during this tough time: Using social media to announce new products and then offering curbside pick-up, changing business hours to better accommodate, and ensuring that their places of businesses are safe for us to enter.
It’s also worth reminding that some of our businesses are not obvious small businesses; instead, they are a business that is locally owned by someone who lives in our community. They have a home, pay taxes, students in school, and volunteer with our local clubs.
If this crisis has taught us anything it’s that we are all in this together: our family, our neighbours, our community, and our local businesses. Let’s keep the pedal to the metal.
Judy Kucharuk is a community columnist living in Dawson Creek.