Many Maryland retailers and restaurants have suffered significant economic loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And there’s a simple way residents can give these small businesses a hand up this holiday season: Shop locally.
Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot said people can support their communities, help preserve jobs and keep small businesses afloat if they spend locally.
“Small businesses have always been there for us,” Franchot said during a virtual news conference Monday, whether it’s supporting the local Little League team or stepping up whenever there’s a fundraising request.
Franchot said that of the some 170,000 small businesses in Maryland, some 30,000 have either permanently closed or will close.
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“That’s a lot of dreams coming to an end … What a tragedy that is,” he said.
Franchot is calling on Marylanders who have been lucky enough to still have jobs and their health care to help.
“We have the economic power because a lot of us have increased savings, who have been lucky not to have been laid off. We still have our jobs; we still have our health care. The money that’s going into our savings, we can’t spend it. We can’t fly anywhere. We can’t really go around and do the normal kind of economic activity that you’re accustomed to. So that money is building up.”
Franchot said that power allows Marylanders to do good.
Buy from small businesses to help out
“I cannot reiterate how much (buying a gift card) helps. It means a lot to us,” whether it’s $5 or $10, said restaurant owner Kelly O’Brien.
O’Brien is the chair of the board of directors of the Restaurant Association of Maryland, and owns Madrones in Frederick and Jasper’s in Largo.
The Restaurant Association of Maryland President and CEO Marshall Weston said restaurants are the backbone of every community, especially during the holiday season.
He said purchasing a gift certificate at your favorite restaurant, or ordering a holiday meal for pickup or takeout, will not only support the restaurants and their owners but will also affect all the people who work there.
“How many of us in every community pick up some extra shifts at a restaurant so that we can have some extra money to spend on our own family?” Weston said.
Restaurants also often provide first jobs for teenagers, he said.
Franchot added that he has confidence in restaurant owners and businesses to safely open up and follow guidelines in place to keep customers and employees safe.
He apologized for all the restrictions that the state has placed on restaurants. “We’re trying to open them up, but sadly, this pandemic is still out there,” Franchot said.
He said that small business owners have been extremely responsible in how they have handled reopening, and he called on communities to rally around them.
“It is a matter of survival for a lot of the remaining businesses out there … I keep telling people, ‘Just survive; just make it through please,'” and Franchot said, “hopefully, there’s a brighter day ahead.”