An article reminded me of the importance of keeping our consumer dollars in the local community, wherever possible.
The coronavirus pandemic is splitting the restaurant industry in two. Big, well capitalized chains like Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. and Domino’s Pizza Inc. are gaining customers and adding stores while tens of thousands of local eateries go bust.
. . .
A similarly uneven recovery is unfolding across the business world as big firms have tended to fare far better during the pandemic than small rivals, thinning the ranks of entrepreneurs who could eventually become major U.S. employers. In the retail world, bigger chains like Walmart Inc. and Target Corp. are posting strong sales while many small shops struggle to stay open.
. . .
The prospects for many independent restaurants, meanwhile, are getting dimmer. Three-quarters of the nearly 22,000 restaurants that closed across the U.S. between March 1 and Sept. 10 were businesses with fewer than five locations, according to listing site Yelp.com.
Frequent closings have always been a facet of the restaurant business. Restaurants typically run on slim margins. Some 60,000 restaurants open in an average year, according to the National Restaurant Association, and 50,000 close.
But this upheaval is the most profound in decades. The association predicts 100,000 restaurants will close this year. The sudden loss of many independent restaurants could permanently alter the landscape of American cities. Some chefs and restaurant operators fear the recent revival of downtowns across the country will slip into reverse.
Employment at restaurants and bars has dropped by 2.3 million jobs from a total of more than 12 million before the pandemic, according to the Labor Department. In fact, the broader leisure and hospitality sector experienced the largest total drop in employment since February in a major industry.
. . .
Kate McClendon, co-owner of McClendon’s Select organic farms in Arizona, said 95% of her restaurant orders vanished when the state shut down dine-in restaurant service in March ... “Independent farms rely on independent restaurants. Big chains don’t buy from local farms,” Ms. McClendon said.
There's more at the link.
In so many ways, we really need local stores, over and above big national chains. The management of big chains think regionally and nationally, not locally. If it makes better business sense to close a local store and shift their efforts to a different town, or city, or region, they'll do it in a heartbeat - but the locals who depended on that store (or restaurant) are now left with no alternative but to drive long distances to another place to buy what they need, or do without. Also, local jobs are lost, and local suppliers to that store or restaurant have lost a customer (possibly without a local replacement being available), so jobs at those suppliers may also be affected. The ripple effects can really damage a community. (Look at Rust Belt cities for a large-scale example.)
I buy a lot of things online, because I live in a small community where many of them simply aren't available in local stores. Nevertheless, I make a point of buying locally whenever I can, even sometimes having a local store special-order something. It may cost me more to do that - but I want that local store to be up and running if I need something urgently. It may be critical to me to get it quickly, rather than have to wait, or travel long distances to get it (imposing delays). In an emergency situation, that may be vital. Take a local gun store. If an emergency arises that means you may have to defend yourself or your loved ones, and you need ammunition yesterday if not sooner, don't you want your local store to have some for you? (Yes, I know, the present ammo drought is an exceptional circumstance, but apart from that, it's still a vital consideration.) The same goes for hardware stores - would you like to repair a sudden plumbing leak without readily available supplies? There are many other examples.
Similarly, a local restaurant can mean a satisfying meal when you're just too tired to cook for yourself, or low on supplies. A local supermarket or convenience store may be more expensive than the big chains, but it's there when you need it, a few blocks away, rather than miles away in a bigger town. For that reason, Miss D. and I often shop locally. We want our neighborhood stores and eateries to be there when we need them, rather than closed down for lack of business.
Food for thought, no?