Independent and Small Chain Stores Can Save the World

A public health crisis changes how we access basic goods — and small businesses are swooping in to fill the gaps


grocery store

If you’ve been to a major supermarket recently, you might have experienced what thousands of shoppers across the country are facing — long lines, overcrowding, and empty shelves. But if you’ve been to your corner store, you may have found an important secret. Independent and small chain stores are a key to getting people the essential supplies they need.

Small businesses are more flexible

Big box retailers, supermarkets, and pharmacies have been overwhelmed by people hoarding basics like toilet paper and hand sanitizer. Small, locally-owned convenience stores, bodegas, and even restaurants have proven far more nimble than large chains during the COVID-19 pandemic, and have been tapping into new supply chains.

Open Door Market in Washington, D.C. tapped into the paper product supply chain usually used by dine-in restaurants to keep items like toilet paper, paper towels, and napkins on the shelves. Local stores prove that for many items that are hard-to-find right now, it’s not a production issue, it’s a supply chain problem. Keep this in mind when you worry about big retailers running out of toilet paper. Small stores can help you out in a pinch! Small businesses are listening

Small, locally-owned stores are more flexible and have more control over their supply chains, and are able to source preferred items if there’s enough demand. They can be more responsive to customer needs. If there are specific products you’re looking for, small businesses can bring them in quickly and easily. Don’t be afraid to ask your neighborhood store owner for what you’re looking for. They’ll be more than happy to help you on your search, and will be grateful for your business. Give your neighbors a helping hand

It’s important to limit your exposure right now, not only to keep yourself safe, but to keep the others around you, like your neighbors and front-line retail workers safe too. Plan ahead with OurStreets to know where to go for which items, and make fewer, more efficient shopping trips. Remember that local establishments often carry local goods, too, which means your money directly supports your neighbors and has a quicker turnaround, sending that spending right back to your community. Courtesy of Union Kitchen

Union Kitchen

For example, our partners at Union Kitchen, a food business accelerator and grocery-chain, carries products from their accelerator members. Many of these businesses offer similar products to the name brand items you might otherwise look for at a big box store — but when you shop local, your money does double duty.

Small businesses can be the hardest hit in economic turndown. Shopping small and shopping local means easier shopping for you that helps out your own neighbors at the same time.

No matter where you’re shopping, OurStreets can help bridge the gap between stores and customers, and make it safer and easier to find what you need. Download the app today and report supplies to make it easier and safer for vulnerable shoppers to find what they need. Together, we can change the way we shop to keep each other safe and healthy.