Things are a bit strange at the moment, you can’t help but notice. What many of us thought would amount to nothing, something that would surely only be a temporary blip, is starting to drag its feet. Whilst businesses have been reopening and loved ones have been reuniting again, the feeling of normality is seemingly still beyond our grasp.
Now with even newer guidance such as the face mask mandate and the 1-metre-plus rule, does anyone even remember who they are actually ‘bubbled’ up with? The global situation seems to be worsening, but in a small market town in Yorkshire most of us seem ready to dust off the insular routine of lockdown and start remembering how beautiful the historic streets of Beverley are, and how hard some of our local business leaders work to make this such an amazing place to live.
As a result of lockdown, it does seems like there has been a public reawakening as to how important our local economy is. Sure, many of us liked to ‘shop local’ even before lockdown, but in the face of true adversity it was suddenly painfully obvious who had a real stake in our community.
As certain giant pub chains laid off their staff despite the furlough scheme coming into effect, airlines forced leave without pay, and shops refused to close despite the imminent danger to their staff and customers out of fear of damaging their profits, the only question I heard from my shop-keeper and café-owning friends alike was how can I support my staff if my business is forced to close?
Of course we worried about our own income. We worried about how we could look after ourselves and families if the money stops coming in. We worried about how we could pay our friendly suppliers, our landlords, and our tax, but when you take up the endeavour of small business, all of these are constant worries that you learn to accept.
Fortunately, our local entrepreneurs are a hardy bunch that do not go down without a fight! We started selling online, or offering takeout only. We started developing apps or joining initiatives. We started sharing ideas and working together. And we reinvented ourselves again.
I would like to stress at this point, local business people are not public health officials, and yet we have been given a public health official’s job. We have each received guidance from the government and been left to our own devices to make it work with an ever shrinking coffer of our own funds and Government support. There may not yet be a fundamental ‘new normal’ that we all must get used to, but many different, clever, creative and unique ‘new normals’ that we have independently developed around keeping our businesses afloat whilst mitigating the risk for our customers and staff.
So, how can you support local even now? All we ask is that you treat us with patience and respect too. Keep an open mind whilst donning your face mask and stepping out onto the street; maybe try a business you have not been too before but has made an effort to be here even during the pandemic. Add us to your weekly routine - take a walk down the High Street and look at who is still here and who is still making an effort to return.
Instead of standing in a socially distant queue at the supermarket why not pop over to your local greengrocer to get your essentials? Or instead of buying mass produced treats, which have been ruthlessly designed to minimise costs but maximise addictive sugars, why not try out a local artisan that has handmade their delicious morsel with only you and your enjoyment in mind?
Spend some time surfing the net and looking at the websites people have made, or the messages they are trying to tell you over social media as these are the mediums we have found effective at talking to our customers without being face-to-face. Talk to us - request those things you have been craving since society shuttered its windows, or ask us about the unique methods we have put in place to stop you catching COVID whilst you shop.
There is a world of friendly people working hard to make things work. Your support now will ensure that we, and all the places you remember, are still here when we come out of the other side.
Sadly, if we rely solely on the big businesses with big bank accounts, we leave our locals and those with the vested interest in making Beverley an amazing place to live by the wayside. If we allow that to happen there will be no ‘new normal’, but there will also be no old normal to return to.