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Expert says to help small businesses don’t shop on Amazon

On this Small Business Week, TV5 spoke with people in the local business community about where they’ve been and what lies ahead.
Consumers need to shop local to help.
Consumers need to shop local to help.(WABI)
Updated: May. 6, 2021 at 4:36 PM EDT
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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - It’s been a trying stretch for small business owners which make up the vast majority of the state’s employers.

On this Small Business Week, TV5 spoke with people in the local business community about where they’ve been and what lies ahead.

“A year ago, there was a tremendous amount of fear and panic,” recalled Machias Savings Bank CEO Larry Barker . “Folks in Maine are very resilient. They adjusted on the fly and became more efficient even with doors closed.”

He is talking about business owners like Ariel Grenier.

“It’s been a crazy year,” she said.

She owns Between Friends Art Center and Next Generation Theatre in Brewer. She bought the business roughly six months pre-pandemic. After a brief closure, they adapted their offerings and are starting to show signs of getting back to normal.

“If we can go through that after only a couple of months of being open, we can go through anything,” said Grenier.

“Having the store closed for a little under two months was definitely different,” said Matt Bishop, who works at Epic Sports in Bangor.

“I can’t say it’s been easy because all the vendors and the companies out there have all had issues as well for manufacturing and distribution,” he said. “It’s just kind of been a trial of perseverance for everybody.”

Both locations were able to get help with PPP loans and other federal programs, but that only goes so far. Local experts tell TV5 as that funding starts to go away, it comes down to the consumer.

Barker says he recently was at his child’s Little League game. He looked around at the outfield fence and saw all the local business signs that had donated to help the kids. There was one large omission.

“Amazon was not on that fence,” said Barker. “They did not write a check to our Little League. You don’t see them on our football score boards or our basketball scoreboards. What you do see is the many small businesses in our community that support these opportunities and so much more.”

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