In only a few short weeks, the COVID-19 pandemic has created a storm of economic uncertainty and financial hardship, with small businesses among those being hit the hardest. In Laurens County, SC, a rural community with many privately owned, family establishments, we have watched as businesses have adjusted their hours, communication methods, and ways of getting products to customers.
We understand and respect the numerous obstacles and hard work it has taken for many of these businesses to get where they are today. As a Chamber, we commit to continuing our many efforts to support local businesses in every way possible, by personally calling to check in, sharing and consolidating information and resources, and promoting individual shopping opportunities.
As the new norm has become virtual, we have ramped up our Think Local Laurens County Facebook page with ideas, posts, and shares for supporting local during this time. Local businesses have an outlet to communicate with their customers and we are working to keep everyone up to date with easily accessible telephone numbers, social media links, menus, and business hours.
If businesses in our area begin to succumb to these unfortunate circumstances, it would not only hurt the local economy—we would lose crucial components of our community. We believe residents are taking on a new sense of pride and appreciation for the local businesses as the reality of potentially losing these stores that make Laurens County so unique sinks in. We continue to encourage customers to adjust to the times, supporting small businesses, by utilizing curbside pickup and/or delivery, purchasing gift cards for future use, showing them love on social media, ordering online through local options, and showing appreciation to business owners. Any level of support can have a huge impact, either right now, or in the coming months as establishments are allowed to reopen fully and discover their new normal.
During these unprecedented times, with uncertain outcomes, we encourage all business leaders to capitalize on being forced out of their comfort zone, by evaluating the way they do business and looking for opportunities to streamline distribution and offerings. It’s heartbreaking to see small businesses struggling for survival, but it is encouraging to see so many holding strong and weathering this current storm with a smile and positive attitude.
Overall, we need to support small businesses—and one another—more than ever and we see and hear this happening. The guidelines seem to change
daily on safe practices for our communities and local businesses. We will continue to adjust daily, and we will all do this together. In many of our posts, we have used #WeAreInThisTogether, with a strong belief around this in Laurens County. We are proud of our municipalities, healthcare organizations, law enforcement, education system, and many representatives, for the teamwork being displayed in every effort to keep us all safe and healthy. We are taking these challenging times day by day as we continue to celebrate the teamwork within our county, our region, our state, and our nation.
We heard from one business owner saying, “We look forward to seeing you again whenever we reopen our doors…,” as she addressed Laurens County residents. As we continue to reach out to our local businesses, we are impressed with the positive attitudes and dedication to survive this pandemic. I know we will all be very happy to see each other again soon, in person, reopening many doors to many businesses. Until then, I continue to encourage everyone to stay strong, love your neighbor, and make a positive impact where you can!