EDITORIAL: Support vital for business
In many ways, it’s what we’ve all been waiting for these past 18 months: The 6-foot bubbles are popping, the masks are coming off, and the doors to local businesses are being flung open.
With COVID cases at manageable levels and vaccination rates increasing, life for many has returned to something resembling pre-pandemic conditions. That’s a start.
But for small businesses in and around York County to be fully resuscitated, local residents will need to help breathe a little life into them.
As Dispatch reporter Tina Locurto recently documented, area retailers — many of whom were knocked down, but not out, by the pandemic — see the summer months as pivotal to their ability to get back on their feet.
“I think every business that has made it to this point is looking at these next couple of months as integral,” Kevin Schreiber, the CEO and president of the York County Economic Alliance, told Locurto. “For many businesses that are able to hang on, they’re certainly hoping for positive economic activity over the warm weather.”
And not just those businesses. Existing operations in the region are being joined by new establishments — nearly three dozen in downtown York alone.
The success of these businesses, whether brand new or longtime fixtures, will depend largely on public support.
Consumers are often urged to “shop local” when the holiday season rolls around. This year, that call goes out early. Local businesses scrambling to recover from the pandemic need a healthy dose of neighborly patronage and they need it right now.
The good news is that it’s so easy to answer the call. Whether dining out, shopping for gifts or seeking a day of recreation or entertainment, the York area’s restaurants, retailers, entertainment venues and tourist attractions offer up just about anything anyone could be in the market for.
And speaking of that market, it may look a little different.
One of the few silver linings to come out of the pandemic has been news ways of doing things. Restauranteurs were especially creative in devising outdoor and other dining alternatives, some of which were so successful, they’re being offered post-pandemic. Other businesses are maintaining successful practices including curbside pickup, expanded hours and new in-store spatial arrangements.
Just as importantly, area teens have stepped up to help fill a labor shortage. After years of chasing hard-to-come-by summer jobs, high school and college students have found themselves in demand thanks to a tight job market. They’ve answered the call at local shops, eateries and entertainment destinations.
Remember, when local businesses prosper, the entire region prospers. A vibrant merchant base is important to the economic health of any community — and we can all use as much good health as we can get these days.
Take it from one someone who knows — local merchant Liz Johnides, co-owner of the thankfully-buzzing-again The Markets at Hanover: “It’s important for the public to recognize now more than ever they need to go back to supporting these small businesses. This is the time — this is the tipping point for many of these businesses.”
So, no need to wait for the holidays this year to create an influx of shopping support for area merchants. Let’s help Christmas come early for our business community.