Calling All Locals: Support Local!
For those of us who reside on the Treasure Coast, it is very clear that our winter residents are gone. It is just us local folk now. Streets are less congested, restaurants don’t have wait lists, doctor’s offices are half empty. While we locals appreciate the economic impacts our northern guests provide, sometimes we fail to realize that we need to pick up the slack in their absence.
Snowbirds Support our Economy
It is estimated that more than one million winter residents migrate to our state each year, usually arriving around Thanksgiving and staying until the weather in their home state becomes more hospitable, around Easter. Concentrations of snowbirds – as they are affectionately referred to by locals – have a substantial impact on traffic patterns, sales tax collections and seasonal demands for local goods and services. Local businesses are acutely aware of the negative impacts of an early Easter.
Local Support for our Economy, Too
So as locals, we need to collectively step up, support our fellow locals. The business owner who happens to be your neighbor: frequent his shop. That way he can afford to pay his employees and survive the summer slow down. That new, awesome restaurant that started up last January: it won’t be there for you or the snowbirds next November if you don’t make the time to grab a meal there in July. Cash flow is one of the most difficult aspects of business to manage, and key to survival. Savvy local business leaders attempt to build up cash reserves to get them through the slow season but it is difficult.
I spoke to two restaurateurs this week who both said the same thing “Our numbers fell off a cliff this week. Everyone just left.” I heard it, and I felt their frustration. But as I was driving home in bumper to bumper traffic on US1 in Port St. Lucie, it hit me. We have over 650,000 year-round area residents. We need these locals to support local! If we all fail to support our neighbors in business, we will eventually only be left with those chain stores and restaurants that don’t do a thing to add to our local identity. Those chain stores tend to pay lower wages to employees. Chain stores can transfer local monies to corporate headquarters in other states. Those chain stores are not what those seasonal visitors are seeking. They appreciate the uniqueness of Florida, and our part of Florida – it is why they keep coming back.
Find Your New Favorite
So my fellow local, consider a stay-cation this year. See what your own backyard has to offer by way of goods and services. Make a conscious effort to support local businesses over chain stores, at least for the summer months. I know it is hot, but you may find your new favorite place.