As one of the most challenging years in recent memory comes to an end, the holiday shopping season will likely determine whether some Helena businesses stay open in 2021 or close for good.
Shortly after COVID-19 was first detected in Montana in March, some local businesses were already reporting that sales were far below normal as fewer people were venturing out of their homes. And nobody could have prepared them for the difficulties they would continue to face during the weeks and months that followed.
Many local businesses closed their doors after Gov. Steve Bullock issued a stay-at-home order later that month, and a few of them never reopened.
Some of those that were fortunate enough to stay in business have weathered the storm by taking out loans and implementing new strategies such as curbside pickup and home delivery, but this holiday season could end up making or breaking them.
It’s not unusual for small businesses to operate in the red until the last two months of the year. And unless we all make a concerted effort to support them during this critical time, some of Helena’s favorite local businesses might never make it into the black.
In an effort to encourage local shopping, the city of Helena is not charging for downtown parking on Fridays through the end of the holiday season. We encourage our readers to do everything they can to support local businesses downtown and throughout the city to help ensure they will still be here for the next holiday season.
Gift cards make great stocking stuffers, and purchasing them is a good way to help local businesses and their employees continue to earn income when they need it most.
With the help of a sponsorship from Real Food Market & Deli, the Independent Record has a free online marketplace at https://localbusiness.lee.net/independent-record where local businesses can sell gift cards. In addition, Downtown Helena Inc. at 330 N. Jackson St. is selling Downtown Helena Nuggets, which can be used like gift cards at nearly 30 downtown businesses.
Whether you are looking for a cocktail, a great meal, a new wardrobe or a last-minute Christmas gift, you can find everything you need right here in Helena.
Let’s keep it that way.
This is the opinion of the Independent Record editorial board.