Recently, I spent some time thinking about where I want to spend my non-essential dollars as we prepare for businesses to slowly reopen. The fact is, some of those forced to close, will never
re-open. Those that do open, face a tough 6-18 months ahead. Many of those still may not survive under the new social distancing rules without pricing increases and extreme customer loyalty.. But what if we could help them, even just a little?
Over the last few weeks, I’ve seen many people flocking to large box stores that sell both grocery and retail items. Even the big box home renovation stores are overflowing with cars in their parking lots. I understand that we need food, that contractors continue to work and maintenance still needs to be handled. And, if these stores were only selling essential items I could understand why they would be allowed to remain open But, how can clothing, patio furniture and new BBQs be essential at one place and non essential at another? Should selling groceries or lumber give you preferred treatment to also sell all your non essential items at a time when others are forced to close. This seems like a bit of a catch 22 for those smaller businesses that sell those same non-essential items, but don’t sell groceries.
You have to wonder why the big box stores get to thrive with no local competition while small businesses continue to suffer? How does it make sense to allow people to shop with hundreds of others in a big box store for non-essential items, while I can’t go to my local clothing boutique with only a few people? As a small business owner myself, I truly feel for small retailers that were already competing with the big box stores on price and selection prior to this lock down. By allowing large retailers to sell non-essential items while requiring the small retailers to close, the government has made it even harder for them to survive. The fact that this decision was forced on small businesses without even giving them the opportunity to pivot to a model that could support social distancing rules, makes this even more questionable.
I will be the first person to admit that over the years, I haven't always been conscious of buying Canadian or shopping local. Searching for a good deal and buying only exactly what I want is part of my cheap by choice strategy.. But, thanks to this pandemic I’ve had a lot of time to rethink parts of this strategy and our impact on the future economy.. When put into context, paying a little more to help small businesses survive seems like money well spent. If by passing on a big box sale to buy local or buying Canadian products saves just one person's job, then that's a deal even I can't pass up!
Cheapo Jo - patiently waiting to shop local and buy Canadian!
Jodie Stauffer, CFP is a wife, mother and Certified Financial Planner. "Being CHEAP has always been in my DNA. But let me tell you, juggling my business, household finances, financial goals with the needs or more accurately WANTS of my daughters, while staying on a budget has not always been smooth sailing." Cheap by Choice is about finding what's