Editorial | Support local businesses this holiday season

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As the holiday season quickly approaches — albeit a different, more socially distanced version than last year — one thing that remains crucial is supporting local businesses.

Local businesses, not big box stores, are the lifeblood of communities. They’re owned and operated by people who care about each of the customers who walk through their doors.

They participate in community service acts like sponsoring youth sports teams and donating to local food pantries, and many of these owners know patrons on a first-name basis.

But COVID has jeopardized these businesses’ positions as community mainstays, as many of them have been forced to cut hours, lay off employees and shut down, in the most extreme cases.

On top of that, grim reports from earlier this year showed that small businesses in the Bronx received only 1 percent of COVID relief loans from the Department of Small Business Services, compared to the 66 percent of loans that Manhattan businesses received.

According to a 2013 report from New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, most businesses in the Bronx are considered “small.” In 2011, two-thirds of the borough’s businesses employed fewer than five employees, while 80 percent employed fewer than 10 employees.

Understandably, due to the larger nature of chain stores and big box retailers, there’s often more convenience and a wider array of products available. This makes them a popular, one-stop shop for those looking for a little of everything.

But consider supporting local shops, restaurants, boutiques and small online businesses whenever possible. Whether it means putting on a mask and shopping in person for a Christmas gift or ordering from your local restaurant directly without the use of third-party apps — which usually take a cut — opting to support local can mean the world to small businesses in the community.

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