If a Small Business Falls in a City...
"And it's quiet uptown //
I never liked the quiet before"
I had a morning meeting Wednesday downtown and some time to kill before it. I wanted to see what the new Nashville looked like. What would this city, once packed each morning around 8AM with commuters and tourists alike, feel like in an age of working from home and when the tourism industry is down $2 billion (and expected to hit $10 billion)?
I parked (which was easy and cheap now that event pricing doesn't exist), grabbed a snack from our pals at D'Andrews Bakery and began to head south. I'd normally pop in my headphones in transit but I wanted to hear the city this time.
The silence spoke volumes. When small businesses close and can't shout for themselves, who will?
Corner after corner and avenue after avenue, commercial lease signs dotted the urban landscape. Once familiar coffee shops and lunch haunts were void of any activity. No shopkeepers, no buskers, no woo girls, no rat racers. Just a handful of residents walking dogs or the rare traveler waiting on a ride to an empty airport.
I see signs with exclamation points telling anyone who sees that "We're open!" Exclamation points are useful to convey excitement.
If Nashville and cities like it are going to go back to any sort of normal, they must understand the current and future effects of the pandemic on small businesses.
Some projections expect as many as 60,000 small businesses to close this year. Those that survive may be awash in debt at rates higher than what large businesses are privy to. Minority owned businesses face worser fates. And when a small business closes for good, it's usually a big business that takes its place.
We work with big and small businesses alike. Small businesses comprise our supply chain of goods made by artisans and entrepreneurs all across the US. And big businesses buy corporate gifts from us in bulk to send to clients and employees as a way to express gratitude, congratulations, and stay top of mind.
We're glad big businesses exist and we're on a mission to save small businesses.
That's why we'll keep telling the stories of our purveyors and makers; we'll speak for them while they're also speaking for themselves.
That's why we'll use our place on boards and part of associations to speak up for the hundreds of small businesses we work with (in addition to being one ourselves).
That's why our 2020 holiday catalog (out next month) will focus on helping companies of any size use their annual gift spending budget to save small businesses.
And it's why we'll keep walking and fighting, boots on the ground and dreams in the air. As our country rebuilds post-pandemic, it will need to be a place where small businesses can start and grow more easily and quickly than ever, create jobs and fight for justice, and dream big while starting small.
It's too quiet uptown and downtown. Let's make some noise.