Updated: Mar 16, 2020
There are so many things to think about as we tackle the challenges of COVID-19, aside from the actual health-related issues.
Here in the U.S. we've now got school closures everywhere, from kindergartens to high schools to universities. Parents and educators are scrambling to keep children safe, well-fed, and educated for a period of time that might be one week or might be several months.
Sports have almost entirely evaporated. All the major professional leagues have suspended their seasons and pretty much all of the college sports seasons have been cut off as well. Even church services have moved online as the country tries to stay at home and not infect those around them.
And not to minimize the very real health consequences, but another area of our lives that this crisis is hitting hard? All of your local small businesses.
Local small businesses, by definition, rely almost exclusively on their neighbors as customers. We don't ship nationally, or often anywhere. An intentional aspect of our business model is the personal, hands-on contact with you, our neighbors, whether that's retail - straight to you - or wholesale - via other local businesses.
And when the message we are all getting is to stay home, don't shop unless it's for absolute necessities, and distance yourself from everyone? Well, that's a crushing blow to us. The Walmarts and Targets also suffer, but they can sustain themselves through moments like this.
Non-chain restaurants and local entrepreneurs and storefronts? Not so much.
Do we want everyone to risk life and limb just to come shopping? Of course not.
But if we are to have any hope of making it through the coming weeks, and if you value what we provide to the community - our products, our employment opportunities, our economic contributions - all the other healthy times of the year, we ask for your help now.
How can you help? Here are some ideas:
1. If you are otherwise healthy, continue attending the local farmers markets - but do so in different way. Instead of the usual opportunities to socialize and catch up, to linger over samples and pet all the cute dogs, just come and get what you need and then leave. Yes, that sounds impersonal and mercenary, but it's a temporary measure. Don't shake hands. Bring your hand sanitizer. Don't loiter. Farmers markets across the country are suggesting the same.
Our enormous thanks to Schacht Groves, who opened their property for an outdoor mini farmers market this past weekend, allowing many of us to continue to serve you, our customers. On Saturday morning, Garden of Esther was joined by Birdie Hogan, Zesty Fox Farm, Pure Produce, and Awaken Kombucha. We appreciate this example and commitment to their fellow local business owners. And Schacht Groves generously plans to continue holding this market until Oceanside Vero Beach re-opens.
2. Gift certificates. If you purchase gift certificates now, it infuses your struggling local business with funds to keep going. Later, when normal life resumes, you'll get to cash those in. And those business owners will be ecstatic to have had this helping hand.
3. Do any of your favorite local businesses have websites from which you can order? You may have to arrange a pick-up - which you can do secret agent style and not even interact! - but you may be able to set up a consistent supply of your favorite pasta/beauty product/produce etc. (We do this! https://www.gardenofestherpasta.com/shop)
You know how strongly Garden of Esther feels about supporting the local community. We hope you understand that our request for help is made in part so that we can continue to grow and serve you, our neighbors, in the future.
So please, reach out to your local businesses. Email them. Call them. Isn't that part of why you patronize them - because they can offer a personal touch? I'm sure any of us would be happy to make arrangements to get our products to you in a way that makes you comfortable and happy.
Thank you. Stay safe. We hope to see you soon (from six feet away).