Thursday, 12 November 2020 13:43

Ways You Can Help Save Our Locals

By Todd Shimkus, President of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce | Business
Photo provided. Photo provided.

Starting in late-March as our economy was shut down, the Chamber has teamed up in an unprecedented fashion with Discover Saratoga, the Saratoga Springs DBA, the City Center, and the Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership to do everything we could to help our local businesses to survive the COVID 19 pandemic.

We’ve helped hundreds maybe thousands of local businesses across Saratoga County. We’ve served members and non-members seeking to help everyone in this crisis. We’ve been relentless in our communications keeping people informed and answering their questions. No one’s done more promotion of local businesses than we have collectively. We’ve been advocates at the Federal, State, County and local levels. We’ve helped promote local efforts and programs designed to help local people from hospitality workers, to essential workers, to health care workers, and first responders.

Darryl Leggieri, Deann Devitt, Ryan McMahon, Shelby Schneider and I have dozens if not hundreds of thank you notes, emails and texts from those we’ve helped. I can’t speak for them but I know that I have worked harder in these last 8 months than I have in my entire 25-year career in chamber work. The work we’ve done, however, has been humbling in that those in need really needed our help. Their businesses and their way of life was at risk. The safety of their employees and their customers was at risk. With every call we took, you could hear the anxiety, the fear and the determination thankfully.

We’ve said throughout this process that we’re Stronger Together. Now that winter is here and COVID 19 is likely to be around for some time, this will be even more important going forward. We’re already seeing businesses close or announce plans to shut down for the winter. Those who remain in business are likely to still be restricted as to the number of customers they can serve at any one time whether they are barber shops and salons, yoga or fitness studios, museums or restaurants, clothing stores or flower shops. These restrictions to keep people safe are limiting the ability for local businesses, in particular, to make money and to sustain their operations.

So our five organizations have now formally launched our SAVE OUR LOCALS campaign. This campaign is an invitation to everyone in our communities locally to help. Shop local. Dine out or do take out local and remember to tip big. Hire local contractors. Purchase every product or service you need at home or at your place of business locally. If you must shop online, try to do so locally too. Our local businesses are counting on you and me to spend whatever discretionary monies we have at local businesses. Help the local businesses you love before they are gone forever.

The importance and value of the SAVE OUR LOCALS campaign was made clear to me because of a call from Anita Daly, the Chair of the Saratoga County Capital Resources Corporation (CRC). The CRC wanted to support this campaign. She asked for details on what we would be doing and how they might help. I told her that we hoped to raise $10,000 to support this campaign. A few days later, she called to tell me that the Saratoga County Capital Resources Corporation voted to donate $10,000. They wanted us to be able to do everything we planned. They wanted to go big in the effort to support local independent businesses across Saratoga County. Besides this donation, the Ballston Spa Business and Professional Association and the Mechanicville-Stillwater Chamber of Commerce also signed up to partner with our five organizations. 

You can see how these funds are being used by going to www.saratoga.org and clicking the SAVE OUR LOCALS button. From this page, you can get a list and links to local stores and businesses offering online gift cards. You can see an updated list of local restaurants doing take-out. We have a web page with links to local nonprofits who need our support as well. Visit us on social media to see the hundreds of posts we’re doing every week to promote local businesses, their hours of operation, their products, their specials and their Holiday gift ideas. We have SAVE OUR LOCALS posters too. We’re producing videos as well with tips and suggestions on how to SAVE OUR LOCALS. We’ve set up a help line for business owners to call to get answers or to get help. Our volunteer SCORE business advisors are ready to help business owners to adapt and to pivot their business plans, marketing, or operations to survive.

Like the Capital Resources Corporation, we’re going BIG to SAVE OUR LOCALS. We’re all wearing masks to keep each other safe and healthy. We all need to support local businesses as well to keep our local economy healthy too.

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