In addition to a global health pandemic and a national labor shortage, local retail and restaurant workforces were squeezed even more this month with the opening of Amazon’s 1.3 million-square-foot distribution center in Republic and Costco’s warehouse store in east Springfield, which took hundreds of workers off the market.
It may be the most stressful time to be an independent retailer or restaurateur since the suburban flight of the 1980s. Springfield has consistently demonstrated over the past 20 years of Center City revitalization that it values its local entrepreneurs, particularly in downtown, on Commercial Street and in the Rountree neighborhood.
The city of Springfield and Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce are committed to enhancing quality of place. Inspired planning is well underway for Grant Avenue Parkway to connect Bass Pro Shops to downtown, for Renew Jordan Creek to become a core element of IDEA Commons and for improving areas throughout the community with the Forward SGF comprehensive plan. Just as the community should have authentic places, it needs unique businesses to set it apart for talent attraction and the day-to-day enjoyment of its residents.
Here are five ways customers can reinforce support of small businesses in this season of adversity.
Positive reviews on social media will emphasize sending valuable messages to ownership and prospective customers. A little extra tipping thanks a server for their hard work and helps them maintain a livable wage.
Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace.”
Many of Springfield’s defining characteristics are proudly displayed in its foods and shops. What would the Queen City be without its cashew chicken, Pizza House cracker crust, Coffee Ethic caffeine, Crosstown barbeque, Hurts doughnuts and the breweries like Brew Co., Mother’s, Lost Signal and Hold Fast? Shops such as Five Pound Apparel celebrate those local points of pride in fun ways through T-shirts and remind us that “Missouri is awesome.” Entrepreneurs like Soap Refill Station initiate a concept in their hometown, and then guide it to expansions in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Kansas City.
It is a challenging time for local entrepreneurs. Take time to check out new places. Visit with your favorite business owners and let them know their long hours are appreciated. Ultimately, the most important vote of confidence is where you spend your dollars.
Rusty Worley, executive director of Downtown Springfield Association, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Research firm Mordor Intelligence reports the worldwide corrugated board packaging market was valued at nearly $173 billion in 2021, and it’s expected to reach $212 billion in 2027.