Small businesses are the lifeline of our community. We like to constantly reiterate that 68 cents of every dollar spent in Terrell stays in Terrell. It’s a cyclical pattern – you spend your money at a local restaurant, they pay their employees who live in Terrell, those employees spend their money at the local grocery store or retailer, and then it repeats. Those same small businesses are the ones volunteering for Terrell events, supporting local charities, donating items for your fundraisers, etc.
These small businesses are so critical in our community, so we really hate to see how many of them are suffering in light of COVID-19. Some are deemed essential and able to continue to operate at some level. But many of them are considered non-essential and have had to shut their business completely during this time. A lot of these businesses don’t have enough employees to qualify for the various federal assistance programs that have been made available. And then some that do weren’t able to get assistance before the funds ran out.
But there is good news. As announced last week, Governor Abbott is working to reopen Texas. One aspect of the plan is that retailers were able to reopen effective today (4/24) operating as retail-to-go. It’s not the news many of our local retailers were hoping for since most have gone more than a month without income, while the bills continue to come in. But they will be able to open and begin serving customers once again in this modified format.
No doubt all businesses are facing unprecedented challenges that threaten survival, but there some positives that come from all of this:
- Creativity: Small business owners are being forced to think outside the box and come up with creative, new ways to serve their customers. Many of them are venturing into delivery for the first time. Some are offering personal shopping or virtual tours of their stores. They’re becoming more active on social media and sharing photos and videos of items they have to offer. We’ve seen them launch new product offerings, such as science experiments or crafts that families can do at home with the kids, while also learning something new.
- Adaptation: We are all adapting to a new normal way of staying in touch with our customers and coworkers. We know many of our members are routinely communicating through video conferencing. Our schools are doing online education. We’re learning that this can be an effective way to accomplish things without being face-to-face and I think virtual communication and distance learning is something that will stick around.
- Supporting Local Businesses: This is an opportunity for members of our community to recognize the importance of supporting these small businesses now perhaps more than ever. We want them to survive this and be here for all of us when we get back to some sense of normal.
- Local Businesses Helping Others: We’ve seen some of our essential businesses giving back in ways to support local businesses and individuals. One member is matching gift card purchases from local businesses with a gift card to the same location of the same value. We’ve had some who are using the extra time on their hands to put their sewing skills to use making cloth masks for those who need them.
While we know it’s been a tough road for local, small businesses we want to remind you that you can make a difference by shopping and dining locally. In fact, we want to announce a new campaign that we hope will incentivize you to do that. We have just launched Terrell Cash, a community currency program that allows you to purchase a gift certificate from the Chamber to be spent at participating merchants. For a limited time, we will give you a free t-shirt for every $20 in Terrell Cash you purchase. You can learn more about how the program works, who the participating merchants are and purchase your Terrell Cash online at www.terrelltexas.com/eatshoptrl. If you’re a local merchant interested in participating in the program, give us a call.