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Op-Ed: Pay it forward to your small business this holiday season

Photo via Getty Images

By Sophia Kim 

Small businesses continue to feel the grind of the pandemic and they’re pounding the pavement for your support. That’s why it’s more important than ever to shop small this holiday season by supporting Small Business Saturday on Nov. 28.

The pandemic has wiped out small businesses and they need a lifeline.

Washington has yet to achieve a solution. To add to the uncertainty, last week Trump’s Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin asked the Federal Reserve to return unused coronavirus funds for its emergency lending programs by the end of the year – cutting off much-needed liquidity from businesses, including the Main Street Lending Program, during a vulnerable economy.

That’s where you come in. This holiday season, instead of buying from a big-box retailer, support your local small business.

Small businesses are nimble engines of the economy. In New York City, 98 percent of businesses are small and they employ nearly 3 million New Yorkers or half of the city’s workforce – a number that is being decimated due to hardships related COVID-19.

According to one study, if you spend $100 at a local business, about $68 stays in the local economy – supporting local tax revenue used for much-needed government services – compared to shopping at a non-local business, where roughly $43 stays in the local economy.

Not only do small businesses pack a big economic punch, but small employers also give back to the local community by providing on-the-job training to the people that live in your town, encouraging new entrepreneurs. Let’s not forget they also sponsor your local Little League, too.

While controlling the virus is the key to recover our economy, being a patron at your mom-and-pop shop is a gesture that could go a long way.

To uphold social distancing measures, check if small businesses in your neighborhood offer online shopping options. If not, they’ll often provide curbside pick-up or delivery. You can also call to see hours of low customer footprint to have peace of mind to shop with little to no contact with people.

As small businesses continue to shift and adapt during these turbulent times, pledge your pocketbook to the local bakery, restaurant, bookstore, boutique and businesses that are minority- or woman-owned as they tend to generate lower income sales according to a Federal Reserve report. It’s also noteworthy that research shows supporting minority-owned businesses helps to lessen existing economic inequality.

This action by you provides a measure of relief for small business owners, employees and their families but also bands us together to strengthen the unique fabric of New York during this challenging time.

So, shop small, make it count this holiday season.

Sophia Kim is a recent graduate of New York University’s Robert F. Wagner of Public Service and comes from a family of first-generation immigrant small business owners.

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