Add neighborly shopping to your list

Budget your dollars with an emphasis on spending locally this holiday and year-round

There’s no denying that 2019 has been a rough year for Butte County. The ripple effects from the Camp Fire keep coming in seemingly endless waves.

For many in our community, housing and food insecurity remain issues. For others, repeated PG&E power outages have upended not only peace of mind but also pocketbooks. The latter has come in many forms: spoiled food, the cost of purchasing generators, loss of income, etc.

It’s also made business as usual virtually impossible for affected shopkeepers. Take, for example, Ron’s Reptiles, the local business long operated by reptile and amphibian expert Ron Greenberg. After operating in rural Butte County for more than 15 years, including giving educational presentations at schools and special community events, Greenberg is preparing to pack up and move to Arizona (see Andre Byik’s report on page 8).

This new normal simply isn’t tenable in his line of work—caring for delicate, exotic creatures that are reliant on warmth. Greenberg estimates he’s taken a financial hit of more than $13,000 due to animal losses and reduced hours resulting from PG&E’s outages. That doesn’t include the $10,000 he spent on generators. And now, adding insult to injury, the utility has planned maintenance and repairs in his neighborhood this Saturday (Nov. 30), effectively forcing him to close his doors on what generally is the retail world’s most lucrative Saturday of the year.

On the eve of Thanksgiving, the CN&R wants to recognize the small businesses that are the backbone of our economy. Our plea this year comes at the tail end of a tough year.

Here’s our pitch: When you go out to spend your hard-earned money, please budget with the little guys in mind. This year is the 10th annual official Small Business Saturday, an alternative to the typical Black Friday and Cyber Monday madness. Before the term was co-opted and trademarked by one of the nation’s major credit card companies, in conjunction with a Washington, D.C.-based historic preservation nonprofit, it was used by small retailers for promotion year-round.

Whatever you want to call it, the idea is to support mom-and-pop shops. Sure, mega-retailers provide jobs and local sales tax, but much of the money spent there goes to their out-of-state headquarters and to corporate salaries. Conversely, money spent at independent brick and mortars owned and operated by fellow residents tends to stay in the local economy. Think of shopping there as a way to be a good neighbor—a gift to them and the community, too.