Remember your neighbors when making purchases

Published 2:42 pm Thursday, April 30, 2020

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In talking with residents about what they plan to do when the Stay-at-Home Order ends, one thing is clear. Most people are not going to just rush back out and pick up where they left off.
While it is true people miss church, shopping and going to restaurants, the lessons of the pandemic will likely stick with us for some time. Social distancing, wearing masks and consciously avoiding crowds will be precautions many people will take for the next year or so.
That is not good news for our local economy.
The president can talk about opening businesses and set deadlines all he wants. The governor can lift all the restrictions and “liberate Virginia,” but unless consumers feel safe enough to return to the stores, restaurants and theaters, it just isn’t going to happen.
There will be some people who will go out and pick up where they left off. But for the most part, caution is a new way of life for many Americans.
We will need to become a different type of consumer to keep our local economy moving. Instead of hopping on the computer and quickly ordering everything we need from Amazon, we need to think more about where those products can be found locally. Many stores will accommodate local customers with online pickups or even delivery services.
The American consumer, now more than ever, is picking winners and losers by the purchases they make. If we choose to get everything we need from Amazon while ignoring our neighbors on Main Street, our local economies will suffer greatly and our small towns will only get smaller.
We have to adjust how we shop. Local merchants will need to make changes with us to stay in business. Restaurants who are not good at takeout need to get better now to survive. Businesses have to market differently by focusing on the ease of ordering, pickup and/or delivery. Stores and restaurants without a strong online presence are at a severe disadvantage and need to get online now to avoid being forgotten.
This pandemic will help us build a new economy based on service, convenience and ease of online ordering. It is important for us as consumers to not forget our local economies and our neighbors when making buying decisions in the coming months.