EDITORIAL: Support for small business more vital than ever

Perhaps you’ve noticed them – the long lineups forming outside many big-box retailers, as businesses limit the number of people allowed inside at any given time.

This promotes social distancing and is, of course, a good and commendable practice as we all do our part to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

It’s also good news that a number of these large retailers are offering their employees across-the-board (if temporary) hourly wage increases to help compensate them for the long and often difficult working conditions they face.

Many of these stores have also set aside special hours for seniors and more vulnerable members of society to shop without having to worry about facing large crowds.

Again, this is the right thing to do.

What all of this adds up to, though, is that the big guys are doing just fine.

So now would be a good time to turn our attention to some of the smaller businesses in our communities that offer many of the same items and services.

There are a lot of them out there right now trying hard to keep their doors open and keep local people employed through what is shaping up to be the most challenging financial crisis most of us have experienced in our lifetimes.

These include – but are in no way limited to – butchers, bakeries, produce markets and small, independent grocers, along with the restaurants and cafés that are offering take-out and delivery in lieu of table service.

Many of these businesses are located near residential neighbourhoods and are a walkable option for seniors and others without vehicles, which means they’re vital to a certain segment of the population and will remain so once this is all over.

Late last month, the prime minister announced that qualifying small and medium-sized businesses can receive federal wage subsidy of up to 75 per cent, to help keep as many people working as possible.

By shopping local, we can help top up that last 25 per cent and, as an added bonus, probably won’t have to wait in a long lineup to do it.

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