The coronavirus has many people feeling like prisoners in their own homes. With color scales, phases and orders constantly being thrown around, it feels as if we can no longer do any of the activities that bring us joy.
After weeks of frantic hoarding wiping grocery store shelves clean, most families have more than enough food to get through the next month of quarantine. Despite this, long lines of cars can still be seen encircling fast food and chain restaurants, as people look for a quick meal, or even just an excuse to get out of the house. Wanting a break from cooking, or even just wanting a change of scenery is perfectly fine, but we should spend our money at local establishments whenever possible.
The most obvious reason to support small business during this difficult time, is the jobs they provide for our community. According to the most recent data from the Small Business Association, in 2016 small businesses provided 47.3 percent of all jobs in the United States. Amarilloans have shown a tremendous amount of loyalty to local businesses over the years. During the doughnut wars of the early 2000s, they chose Donut Stop over national chain Krispy Kreme, driving them out of town in just a few short years. Another example is Sharky’s vs. Chipotle. Chipotle is still here, but I’ve yet to meet a born and bred Amorilloan who would choose them over Sharky’s. But here’s the thing: Krispy Kreme and Chipotle is still thriving. As a large corporation, they were able to handle the loss of one store, something many local businesses probably cannot do.
Loss of revenue means many businesses will resort to layoffs, or in severe cases, store closures. The loss of jobs causes the unemployment rate to go up, which is never good for the economy. Okun’s law, an economic predictor that investigates the statistical relationship between a country’s unemployment rate and the growth rate of its economy, states that a 1 percent increase in unemployment reduces the U.S. gross domestic product by 2 percent. Since policy makers want the GDP to go up 2-3 percent each year, the record breaking 3.3 million (and rising) who have filed for unemployment due to Covid-19 clearly will have an effect on the economy.
Local businesses are also important for the local economy because they pay property taxes and collect sales tax, all that go directly back into the community. The more thriving businesses we have in our community, the more resources we have to help maintain the infrastructure of a rapidly-growing Amarillo. Taxes collected from businesses help fund important services such as the police, and fire departments and even schools.
The bottom line is, people’s jobs are on the line. The future of Amarillo is on the line. Krispy Kreme will be around for years to come, but are you willing to say goodbye to Donut Stop? Or Sharky’s Burrito Company? Many local restaurants now offer take out only options, with contact free options. The Eatery for example, on route 66 shut down a few days to best evaluate how to meet customer needs, while also taking care of their staff. Small businesses are doing their part, so I’m asking you to do yours. Take care of local businesses like you do your family members, because you might miss them more than you thought if they aren’t able to make it through this.