Ann Silver: ‘Curbside Commerce’ program would help ailing businesses (Voices)
Special to the NNBW
Gov. Sisolak has repeatedly made clear that he does not have a timeline for businesses to reopen. His emphasis, wisely so, is on the health and safety of all Nevadans. We appreciate his stated priorities and maintain the very same ones.
However, despite the ability of big box stores and others, many of which are affiliated with large corporations, to remain open and profitable, 65% of our 2,000 members are businesses that employ less than 50 people — and they are closed.
These small businesses are, for the most part, defined as non-essential businesses and are without income, having to furlough or eliminate workers while struggling to secure federal funding that has yet to arrive.
They are the fabric of our everyday lives — or, they were before the pandemic — and we can only hope they survive long enough for us to patronize them again.
Whether or not small business employees will ever return to the workplace is unknown, producing yet another crisis when the time comes for our members to reopen. Advanced technology skills, permanent social distancing and new ways of doing business will require flexible, retrained employees and accommodating employers.
As a result, the Reno + Sparks Chamber of Commerce has proposed a program called “Curbside Commerce,” designed to allow small businesses to provide curbside sales of their products under strict guidelines and requirements, stricter protocols than we’ve yet seen in many “essential” businesses.
This gradual, but steady commerce activity would allow dollars to flow through our community, maintain employment for many workers, and demonstrate again that small businesses are the lifeblood of our community.
Bike shops, bookstores, gift shops, liquor stores, bakeries, clothing, jewelry and furniture stores, distilleries, breweries, consignment shops, and other retailers would be able to feature their products online, complete sales transactions online, and deliver products to vehicles parked in designated zones at prearranged times.
No personal interactions would occur with consumers remaining in their vehicles. Only employees with gloves and face coverings could provide “curbside commerce,” and program protocols would be monitored. Maturity, accountability and compliance would be essential to make this program viable.
This concept is only one of many that might be implemented to forestall the withering of small businesses that create the vibe and unique core of our community.
We ask the Governor to encourage us to provide ideas and innovative solutions that won’t compromise the health and safety of our families and neighbors. Let’s kill the virus and not the economy.
Ann Silver is CEO of the Reno + Sparks Chamber of Commerce. Reach her for comment at email@example.com.
Heather Ashbridge, who started with Nevada State Development Corporation in 2008, previously served in several roles with the organization, including assistant vice president and loan officer. She is based in NSDC’s Reno office.