June 13, 2024

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused serious damage to the United States economy. Although the stay-at-home order was necessary from a health standpoint it caused a major strain on local businesses that now need our help.

Local businessmen and women are the heart of American communities. They bring employment opportunities and innovation to our communities. They are often personal and care about the community because their loyal customers are friends and neighbors.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, which offers support and services to small businesses, employment in small businesses has seen a huge drop because of COVID-19.

Small businesses are a cornerstone of local communities and the economy. Not only are they owned by people within the community who are now facing serious financial strains, but they also contribute a vast amount of wealth into the local economy when business is going well.

Small businesses also pay attention to the community that surrounds them, they see our needs and create ways to fulfill them. This is something that should be rewarded, especially in times of economic struggle and uncertainty.

Although there is a place for major corporations such as Amazon and Walmart, they do not bring the personal atmosphere that local establishments offer because their CEOs do not care about the customer on a personal level. They are not our personal friends.

Local businesses also make every city unique. Every large city has chains such as Walmart and McDonald’s and department stores such as Nordstrom and Macy’s but what other city has Molino’s coffee? Or Back to the Grind? Or the Mission Inn? These are businesses that are unique to the Riverside area.

In a recent interview with Linda Sherman-Murick from Cellar Door Bookstore, she told the Banner how different downtown would look without local businesses. This is true, Riverside flourishes in large part because of how rare it is. One of the reasons Riverside so different is because of the relationships the city and the population have with our local businesses.

We have coffee shops, theaters, hotels, bookstores, restaurants and bakeries that are not offered anywhere else. The Mission Galleria Antique Shoppe allows locals to lease a small space and sell their crafts and antiques is a rare find outside of Riverside.

As college students, it is easy to say we need to save our money. However, giving back to the community in a time of economic uncertainty should still be a priority to young adults. Local businesses cannot make it on their own during this pandemic. They need customers to continue buying their products.

If you cannot go out into the community because of COVID-19, there are other ways to contribute, such as shopping online. Many businesses have shifted their sales online in order to adapt to the pandemic.

Forbes magazine published an article over the summer about ways we can support our local businesses even if we do not think we currently need the product.

One of these suggestions was the purchase of gift cards, most businesses will sell these and they do not expire, which makes them valuable in the future.

They can also make good gifts with the holidays around the corner because they help the business and introduce friends to new places. For example, some people may not know of Molino’s coffee, and giving them a gift card introduces them to the coffee shop and gives Molino’s a potential new customer. They can also be a fun addition to raffles.

Other places, such as local gyms, offer online classes that customers can take from their home. Although they do not have the face-to-face experience, it is a way the gym can still bring in money and interact with its customers.

In addition to local businesses, more people are starting their own side businesses. College students are getting into arts and crafts and launching Etsy shops and doing their best to earn a little extra. If you have money to spare, purchasing items from friends is a great way to help them and help their business flourish.

Giving money to those in need is a great way to share God’s message, and it is important to help others even in scary and unprecedented times.

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