Letter: Residents should support local small businesses

Below is a Letter to the Editor from this week's Shelton Herald. If you'd like to have a letter to the editor run next week, email letters to brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com

Below is a Letter to the Editor from this week's Shelton Herald. If you'd like to have a letter to the editor run next week, email letters to brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com

Contributed photo

To the Editor:

Fourteen months into the COVID-19 global pandemic, it’s clear nearly every aspect of life has been impacted. This has been put on full display for our small businesses and eateries whose operations were rocked in March of 2020 and continued to operate in a state of uncertainty. Consumers, mindful of in-person interactions during the height of the pandemic, took to the internet for purchases.

According to Digital Commerce 360 analysis, consumers spent $861 billion online with U.S. retailers in 2020, up 44 percent from $598 billion in 2019. Online spending represented 21.3 percent of total retail sales last year compared with 15.8 percent the year prior.

COVID-19 accelerated a trend we were already seeing — more people are shopping online rather than in store. This should be noted by localities as we approve new developments including retail, when the future of box stores is uncertain. In the last year, many large-scale stores buckled under the challenges of COVID-19, closed and filed for bankruptcy.

Small businesses took a hit from the pandemic, too, and while the federal government stepped up in a significant way with the Paycheck Protection Program, shuttered venue program and restaurant relief program, one thing will continue to support small businesses in their future — you.

As we re-emerge from the pandemic, it's more important than ever before to shop local and support area eateries and businesses. Local small businesses are owned by our friends and neighbors and hire locally. The funds you spend at a nearby shop are reinvested in our local economy. Small shops often feature goods from Connecticut artisans which support our nearby suppliers and even agriculture businesses.

Seven years ago, I started Celebrate Shelton with my sister, Nicole Mikula, and our friend, Michael Skritc, to highlight small businesses in and around the Naugatuck Valley. As the pandemic restrictions are lifted, we are eager to once again highlight small businesses in-person and encourage people to shop local.

I believe in — and have been working towards — a vibrant downtown Shelton where we take pride in our streets, with welcoming sidewalks and safe parking. With smart public and private partnerships, we can revitalize downtown with more shops to visit and cafes to enjoy. Downtown Shelton can be a destination that makes Shelton and our Naugatuck Valley proud — but we only get one shot at developing it right. In the meantime, let us support existing businesses who have made it through a challenging year that impacted our lives and livelihoods.

Shopping online from home may be easy, but nothing beats an in-person experience at a local shop. After a year of "stay-at-home," we can all benefit from a stroll into our favorite local stores.

Jimmy Tickey

Planning & Zoning Commissioner

Co-Founder of Celebrate Shelton