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The Mast-Head: Don’t Forget the Retailers

Wed, 04/01/2020 - 23:40

It felt like a drug deal. We made initial contact in an email exchange. Over the phone, we arranged payment. I drove to Sag Harbor. Gwen opened the door a crack and handed me the package. There it was, the goods I had been trying to get hold of since the weekend — a 1,000-piece Ravensburger jigsaw puzzle.     

As the stay-home policies started going into place, thoughts immediately were of our stomachs, collectively speaking, of course. Not satisfied to ravage the grocery aisles, attention piled onto restaurants as well. Many began providing takeout with curbside service. Fund-raisers were mounted for waitstaffs facing the prospect of no tips at all. This was terrific.     

Yet it dawned on me while looking at Instagram or something that retailers, too, must be hurting, and unlike restaurants they have to deal with the doubled curse of a pandemic in an era when online shopping sites had already been chewing on their revenue for years. It is hard to see how Amazon could be snatching dollars from John Papas . . . though it is probably just a matter of time.     

My rule generally is to check local stores first for whatever it is that I need. Sure, I could order the thing from the comfort of my office desktop, but a fat lot of good that does for anyone here in this community. Hell, the one person I know connected to Amazon was fired years ago.     

From my point of view, it is even more important than ever to shop locally. Phone the shops; many here are indeed owner-operated and will get back to you. As much as anything else, supporting these neighbors should be considered an obligation. Buy two — I did.     

Gwen held more puzzles up to the glass. I pointed at one depicting the mythical sea monster the kraken. It seemed appropriate. One is never enough when you don’t know how long the family is going to be cooped up together.    

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