The past 10 weeks have been a long haul for many local businesses amid state orders requiring closure or restrictions on so-called “non-essential” businesses, so some local groups have a plan to help them boost their revenues in the coming days.
About six or seven of the Roswell Chamber of Commerce’s 575 members have informed the group that they have gone out of business, said Executive Director Candace Purcella. The chamber and the Roswell-Chaves County Economic Development Corp. want to help businesses recover and are conducting a “shop local” campaign starting Monday.
“We don’t want any more businesses closing,” said Purcella. “We can only do so much, but we will do everything we can to keep that from happening.”
Monday is when state orders originally put into place in mid-March will ease to allow restaurants to provide some indoor dining, in addition to take-out and delivery. Indoor shopping malls also can resume operations at 25% building capacity, and barbershops, hair and nail salons, gyms, and tattoo and massage parlors can reopen with similar guidelines. Retailers and offices, even those previously closed as “non-essential,” were allowed to open at 25% capacity on May 16.
Purcella and Mike Espiritu, president of the local Economic Development Corp., said they will be posting videos featuring local businesses on social media and websites, doing photos or articles in newsletters and publications, and making posters, door and window signs, and possibly yard signs to draw people’s attention to local operations.
The campaign has some similarity to Small Business Saturday, a national ad and awareness campaign held the Saturday after Thanksgiving and sponsored by American Express that urges people to make their purchases at locally owned businesses. In fact, American Express and other large corporations are sponsoring a campaign for the COVID-19 times called “Stand for Small.” As one of the signs from the Small Business Saturday campaign on a Roswell shop door indicates, one reason to support local small businesses is that, on average, 67 cents of every dollar made by a locally owned business will remain in the community.
Purcella and Espiritu, president of the Roswell-Chaves County Economic Development Corp., said they understand the contributions of large businesses, as well. They generate sales tax, or gross receipts taxes. They pay rents and buy properties. They have sometimes sizable payrolls. But the focus is on local businesses precisely because so many were deemed “non-essential” by the original public health orders and ordered closed, except for online or delivery sales, for about eight weeks.
The owners also tend to be deeply invested in community organizations and activities, Purcella said.
“The bigger corporations — and we do appreciate what they do and what they provide to the community — but this is our opportunity to showcase and promote our local businesses that support us as a community. More often than not, they are the ones who support our local youth in their sporting activities. It is more like a family atmosphere that really supports one another and really gets down to the heart of the community’s needs.”
She added that they will not just focus on chamber or EDC members, but any locally owned business in Chaves County.
Espiritu said that, in addition to help promote local businesses, talking with the owners could help the EDC and its Economic Recovery Task Force learn how best to help businesses in the months ahead.
“One of the reasons we are doing this, too,” he said, “we are calling upon our local business community to see how they are doing. The information isn’t really clear about who is having the most challenges and needs the most help.”
He said the EDC might be able to direct businesses to the resources or people they need to help their businesses survive or thrive.
Espiritu said people should “not wait until the day after Thanksgiving, but let’s think about it now because people need help today.”
Other “think local” efforts have been occurring in Roswell, as well, during the coronavirus restrictions. MainStreet Roswell has been featuring businesses on its social media and websites and helping local shops to create websites for online sales. Another group has made “Support Local” T-shirts and is highlighting the businesses that participated in that effort in an online video.
Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.