We are all experiencing this pandemic in different ways. Tina is the co-owner of Optec and writes from the perspective of one whose business and livelihood has been shut down since March 23.
It is what it is.
As everyone is painfully aware, the world going forward will not be the world of New Year’s Day 2020. Who could have guessed that in just a few short weeks, we would descend from an economy boom to balancing on the brink of a depression?
At lightning speed, small business owners saw what many believed would be their best year become a nightmare. Coupled with the horrifying thought that we could lose (or perhaps have lost) a family member or friend to this virus, many are burdened with loss of income, savings and years of hard work that went into building what they believed would be their path to retirement.
Others, the workers considered essential, get up each day and go to work. Stepping out of their home with certain fear and steady courage, it cannot be easy for them. We hope they understand how much they are appreciated.
A Reality Check
Every day, I wake up feeling like perhaps we were all unwitting cast members in a cruel remake of The Truman Show.
We are not.
As I pull the sheets back over my head, the tag catches my eye. A weird moment, to be sure, when I feel guilt that it does not say “Made in the USA.” On social media, I am reminded by posts that we should support our local businesses. They will need our support in order to succeed as we recover from Covid-19 shutdowns.
I agree with those posts and at no other time in my life has the consequences of not buying local hit so close to home. We love our Main Street businesses. They make our small town our home. Walking into a local business and being greeted by name gives a warm feeling and sense of community. Honestly, this is one of my favorite reasons for living in a small town.
Of course, that isn’t the whole story. So many businesses are suffering losses; it’s hard to conceive.
I read something this week on social media, and it made a lot of sense: “We are in the same storm but not in the same boat.”
How will we make sure that everyone’s boat stays afloat in this storm? Buying local, of course, is the first and most effective way to keep our Main Street alive. However, not everything we need can be found in the small shops on Main Street.
While I love having a store like Meijer in Lowell, I realize that I need to look beyond convenience. Meijer doesn’t have to be your one-stop shop, and perhaps if we are serious about plugging holes in the boats of those we love, we should look at supporting American businesses beyond our local restaurants and hair salons.
A Thoughtful Request
With that in mind, I decided to look at my morning routine. Those sheets that I pulled over my head in frustration, well, they have certainly reached the age of retirement. A quick search on the internet, and I found a great site with all sorts of bedding made here in the USA.
How about toothpaste? Not as easy. Some of the major brands have some production here in the Unites States, but most have production in other countries. One company located in Florida, which manufactures in Mississippi, is Ugly by Nature. Loved the website, the organic ingredients and flavor choices.
As for soap, several of our shops in Lowell sell wonderful goat milk soaps, or you might want to try The Milk Bucket or Kinder Haven Farm for hand lotions, deodorants, lip soothers and more. There is such a great variety of local soaps, give them a try.
After a day spent looking at all the local and USA-made products, I was encouraged that I could find many things without having to buy from overseas. You might say that it is more expensive than items you buy at Meijer, and many times they are. That is the cost of small production since local businesses do not have the benefit of economies of scale. Maybe it’s time to also focus on the benefits rather than just the cost.
Closer to home means fresher products. You are also ensuring that your neighbors have jobs. Being more mindful of each dollar we spend gives us more control over what this country produces. We are helping our neighbor’s business, our family’s business and our friend’s business. Even though some of these businesses may not be right next door, how we spend affects us all. Money retained in our economy ensures business remains here.
And for those who are more green-minded, we need to do better in our efforts to curb pollution. Buying closer to home means less use of fossil fuels, resulting in a smaller carbon footprint. If we believe in our green convictions, we need to change the way we purchase everyday items.
As for me, I will be more thoughtful in what I purchase. I’m looking critically at my daily routine, and how I can implement new local products every week. I’m asking you to take a few moments to find where small changes can be made in your daily purchases. The slow, steady ripple effect of a community buying closer to home could save a job, and maybe it might just be yours.
I think it’s worth it.
I hope you do too.