As the coronavirus pandemic continues, it is more important than ever to shop local and support local businesses and their employees who have been impacted by the extended restrictions on businesses. In other words, even if you are spending less and saving more (as the aggregate data indicates), when you do open your wallet, try to shop local whenever possible. This directly impacts the demand for local jobs. Businesses cannot hire people back if the local demand for their products and services is not there, thus, we need to support our local businesses to bring back jobs to our local economy.

Of course, we know returning to our “previous normal” won’t be happening anytime soon. I realize wearing face masks, waiting in long lines for businesses due to social distancing measures, curbside pick-up only, etc., may seem like an added hassle you would rather not deal with. Clicking on that “add to cart” tab for a non-local business may seem more appealing. But again, I know most of us want nothing more than to help those locally that have been negatively impacted by this pandemic. Thus, one the easiest things we can do right now to help our community economically recover is to shop local. As we shop local, businesses keep their doors open and possibly hire more people, which in turn, lowers the unemployment rate, and ultimately creates income for our local residents.

At the chamber, we knew that we wanted to implement an event that followed social distancing guidelines but was able to promote growth and success for our businesses and their employees. If you have not had the chance to participate in one of our Shop Hop events, we have one scheduled for Galion on Saturday, August 8th and in Crestline on Thursday, August 27th. The chamber tent is centrally located in both communities and we have created engagement opportunities for shoppers or people who just want to get out of their houses. Business scavenger hunts and searching for our "Shop Hop Rocks" are enjoyed by people young and old. We have heard from businesses and shoppers alike that these events have really helped bring awareness to the small niche stores and increase visibility of what each town has to offer.

We have always said that small businesses need more than just one day in November to be celebrated. Now is the time to keep our dollars local and help our neighbors get through this pandemic. It really does take a “village” to come together and help our communities thrive.

Remember, through all of this, be kind. Each of our businesses and our shoppers have their own struggles they are trying to overcome. It is important to have compassion and patience.