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OPINION: Shop Local this Holiday Season and Support Community Small Businesses

By Will Barclay


[This year’s] holiday shopping season will undoubtedly look different from those in years’ past as normal commerce and retail activities have been disrupted to a significant degree. For this reason, my colleagues and I in the Assembly Minority Conference are making a special push to remind shoppers of the value and importance of shopping local and supporting small businesses.

We have always believed in the importance of supporting community businesses and have proudly stood up for them through the myriad challenges facing New York state’s economy. This year, though, these challenges hit a little differently. A recent report indicates a staggering 28 percent of the state’s small businesses have not opened their doors since January of this year (See: Storefronts are shuttering, restaurants are closing, and many of the unique, niche businesses that comprise the fabric of our communities are disappearing.

Sadly, the frustrations and anxiety surrounding COVID-19 and its economic impact have recently boiled over in some areas. In Staten Island, an unfortunate situation played out where a tavern owner was arrested on his own property for defying lockdown orders and trying to keep his business afloat.

Numerous regions across New York state are experiencing a rise in COVID-19 rates. The possibility of more lockdown orders is once again a serious concern. Steering even a few more holiday purchases toward a community establishment this season would make a big difference for those who are still fighting for survival. Situations like the one in New York City are indicative of the urgency of the matter and the need for immediate action.

During the coming weeks, all of us can do our part at the local level to help small-business owners. Albany must contribute as well. Earlier this year, the Assembly Minority Conference presented recovery proposals that include a number of provisions aimed at helping the small-business community. Our “Jump-Start New York” plan called for financial and regulatory relief for job creators, and we will continue to refine and advocate for measures that help small businesses recover.

Together, with an emphasis on state-level support, additional federal funding, common-sense safety measures that do not place an undue burden on already-struggling businesses, and a concerted effort to inject a little extra holiday shopping money their way, we can help save New York’s small-business community. These are trying times; please consider ways you can stretch the impact of your holiday budget and shop local this winter.        

William (Will) A. Barclay, Republican, is the New York Assembly Minority Leader and represents the 120th New York Assembly District, which encompasses most of Oswego County, including the cities of Oswego and Fulton, as well as the town of Lysander in Onondaga County and town of Ellisburg in Jefferson County. Contact Barclay at