For businesses, the magic word of 2020 is “reopen.” For some, May 20th signaled the start of back-to-business – certainly not business as usual, but at least an unlocked door and an “open” sign in the window. For others, a date to turn the lights on remains uncertain. As business owners wade through a sea of regulations, recommendations and sanitizing schedules, they’ll be counting on one thing more than anything else: the cooperation and patience of employees and customers.
For those of us feeling hopeless or uncertain about what to do or how to help in the midst of this unprecedented time, understand that one extremely significant way we can make an impact is to support our local business owners.
We can do that, of course, by purchasing from these businesses, but support comes in many forms.
We can show support by being patient as businesses take their first tentative steps toward reopening, perhaps causing us to wait slightly longer to be served as they manage with lower capacity and reduced staff.
We can be cooperative with any new measures they ask of their customers and respectful about requests to take certain steps to keep others safe.
Understand that the last thing these businesses want is to have to ask anyone to leave their business for not cooperating with safety measures, and that they certainly can’t afford to be chastised for customers behaving irresponsibly.
We can support them by sharing their social media posts about new policies and procedures, special requests, and product availability.
As simple as it sounds, we can ask them how they are, and how business is going.
Sometimes just knowing that their customers missed them and want them to succeed makes a world of difference.
It’s not easy owning a business of any size under normal circumstances.
Many of these leaders work all hours of the day to make their dreams a reality, to support their families, to take care of their employees, and to serve their customers.
Now, they are expected to do all of that while simultaneously trying to fight an invisible enemy and keep us all safe.
As we venture out into this new “phase one” world of reopening, I ask that we keep all of this in mind and take some time to find extra patience and understanding with each other.
If we do, the process of reopening our businesses and our state will surely be a much smoother one.
For those businesses that need assistance in navigating the world of reopening, I invite you to visit our dedicated webpage at waterburychamber.com/reopenct, which is being updated daily with information and resources.
In addition, I invite you to reach out to myself or any member of the Chamber staff if we can be of service.
Julie Donato is the director of the Watertown Oakville Chamber of Commerce.
She can be called at 203-757-0701 ext. 309 or by email at email@example.com.