Participants of the “Bike Parade” ride down Bluffton Road at last year’s “A Walk In Waynedale” Event.

It is happening all over the nation. Mainstreet storefronts and restaurants that have been there for years are closing shop. This is all too real for us in our tight knit community of Waynedale, especially when you drive past the Lower Huntington / Bluffton Road corner where Azar’s and Umbers used to be less than six months ago. The pandemic and the shutdowns are clearly impacting storefronts, but for most it is more of a “final nail in the coffin” for a struggling business, than a one-time K.O. for a successful one.

From recent discussions with business owners, they say the biggest issue seems to be customers remembering to shop locally. For generations, many businesses in our community have survived by offering great products at competitive prices, that are just a short walk or car ride away. They say, for many customers, it is so convenient to order online, they don’t take that stroll down to the local widget store to buy the thing they need, but they forget about the real cost they might be paying in terms of their community.

With the emergence of the pandemic, there has been a true call to identify and help businesses, specifically bars and restaurants, who have been negatively impacted. But, how do you get people out and about, safely, to help preserve all businesses in the area? Well, that is the genius of the SHOP Waynedale week and games.

Unlike many other communities who have government backing to organize and fund a shop local initiative, this unique week-long event (Aug. 23-29) is completely supported by volunteers and donors who see a need to help. The best part is that people can play the games to their own safety and comfort level and still have a chance to win some of the over thousands of dollars worth of gift cards and prizes. And even though there is no purchase necessary to play, just by participating, people are creating awareness and becoming actively involved in exploring our great and diverse businesses throughout the community. And the hope is that this will help them think about stopping by even after the event. It is truly a win-win for businesses, who were able to participate cost-free as well.

Here are 4 quick facts to remember about shopping local:

  1. Small businesses generate $68 of local economic return for every $100 spent with them.
  2. Small businesses employ 58.9 million people.
  3. Local business generates 70% more local economic activity per square foot than big box retail.
  4. Shipping produces 1 billion metric tons of C02 a year.

Further than just the unsightly appearance of vacant storefronts with “for sale” signs, those buildings represent a community’s livelihood. A small business means jobs, goods and services available nearby, and they come with a business owner to care about helping to create events, projects and initiatives to make our neighborhoods better. The battle to keep local businesses alive is very important for homeowners too, because as you can imagine, vacant buildings nearby negatively impact home values.

A community is an investment for all who live and work there. When we work together to protect and care for that investment, everyone wins. However, we have to remember to break that bad habit of the convenience of online shopping when there’s a viable local option. Maybe it is worth taking that extra trip, paying that extra penny, and making the effort to remember to shop local.

Alex Cornwell

Alex Cornwell

The Owner & Publisher of The Waynedale News. Alex is a community leader and founder of various organizations, events & improvement initiatives in the area. He is also the recipient of 2019's Allen County Vandeveer Impact Award and 2012's University of Saint Francis' Distinguished Young Alumni Award. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer