This is a very different holiday season

PETER ROSE

I’m happy to tell you that the “Black Friday” weekend brought lots of people out to support the indie community.  

It was a big relief; we had no idea of what to expect.  

Trade news varies wildly. Some are brashly positive for the prospects of small businesses in the holiday season; most are much more uncertain. 

 The National Retail Federation predicts a 4.7 percent increase over last year for all retail, but it’s a meaningless number.  

Why?

Because their numbers include everything that will be purchased on-line, and everything sold in mass-market, publicly traded operations like Target and Walmart and nearly every store you see in a mall. There is absolutely no way they can predict that in this time of corona, but it doesn’t stop them. Their numbers have nothing to do with the stores I advocate for, because Indie stores do not report to the stockholders. 

One source reported that in a survey they conducted, 70 percent of the respondents said that they intended to do 100 percent of their holiday shopping online. You might imagine the consternation felt by merchants as we enter the period that is well known to be crucial.  After all, while we had our Small Business Saturday, over the course of that weekend, internet shopping shattered records.

What do I say to the readers of this column that I haven’t said already?  

We’re in a pandemic, so I can say it all with more urgency, perhaps, but most of you, even if you see some validity to my words, will still buy online.  

You surely can bypass the local provider of all manner of “things,” sit at home and click. 

This has been happening in growing numbers, year after year, but now comes this dangerous virus, and there will absolutely be a far bigger number that sends their money away from the region, cities and stores that define our Downriver.

There are very few local shops that flaunt safety measures. We take it very seriously and if you’re nervous and tell us so, we can give you greater protections by distancing, masking and services that make it worth your while. 

You don’t have to hang around for a long time, increasing the risk. All of the stores you might normally visit at this time of year will be so appreciative if you find a way to support them, ensure that they are not on the endangered species list as the season ends. You’re well aware that the lost 80 days of the spring season was a killer, and that sales have been suppressed ever since for many. 

I don’t actually expect to affect real change as I write these columns.  

I earnestly hope to reach some of you, as many as I can, to get you to consider the result and cost to our community of sending your money away.  

Many of us have on-line options, many will do curbside delivery, others will do home delivery for the asking. Take the time to ask, because the stakes are high.

There really are a lot of people that need no such preaching. They don’t need me to explain it. For all the reasons I’ve written about and more, they prefer shopping small, where they can actually get help from people that know what they are talking about. Where they can simply chat with people that know them, appreciate them, and care about them. 

To me, warmth and glad tidings trumps all, and especially at this time of year. We need to be with people that when they say, “Thank You,” you know they mean it.

I don’t mean to be self-serving here, but the small idea of supporting this publication through the purchase of ads is something that Amazon and Macy’s will never do.  

The Grosse Ile Grand, Wyandotte Warrior, Southgate Star and Rivereview Register are local and independent, serving people through support of local and independent businesses. 

Without revenue, you have no community paper. This is how our local capitalism works, here in our Downriver beach ball. We either prioritize keeping the ball inflated, or being indifferent as we make choices that deflate it, without having even given the whole thing any thought.  

It is our community to enrich by keeping money local …or not.

Lastly:  Please do everything you can to get your food from the local restaurants you love. We can’t buy every meal from them, but we should heighten our efforts.  

Don’t use delivery services if you can help it; they have to pay for that service. Tip like crazy; overtip big.

Sincere thanks to all that take the time to tell me they identify with the ideas expressed in these columns. 

What better time than to tell you it’s gratifying to think that people do listen and do care. 

Merry Christmas and happy holidays to one and all! 

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