Like everyone else, our plans for spring looked very different from how our lives are currently unfolding. In early May, we were planning to commemorate our 10-year anniversary of founding The Scout Guide with a gathering in Charlottesville with our 60 city editors, followed by a celebration with the local small business owners who have inspired and helped sustain our business since 2010. Our plans have changed, but our commitment to our mission of supporting independent businesses—and our desire to honor and thank the people who have helped us build this incredible network (including you) is stronger than it has ever been.

When we started The Scout Guide a decade ago, our goal was simple. We wanted to support small businesses by helping to tell their story, and by creating a connection between the owners and members of the community. We produced a print publication putting the faces behind the places that we love front and center. We profiled business owners online, showcasing their talents and expertise in blog posts, newsletters, and Facebook posts (later we would add a new platform called Instagram). We wanted to help small businesses fight the battle with their big-box competitors. We wanted them to be recognized as the unique and essential aspects of our community that they are. We wanted them to thrive.

There is no way we could have foreseen where we are today—facing a worldwide health crisis and grieving the loss of lives, sense of normalcy, and any certainty about what’s to come. But what we do know without a doubt is that supporting small businesses is more important than ever.

Right now, local business owners are working harder than ever to survive, rapidly adapting to current needs and guidelines in an effort to continue to serve their customers, retain their employees, and keep their dreams alive. We’ve watched with sadness and fear as we’ve seen restaurants close and retailers and service providers scale back their offerings. But we’ve also been awed and inspired as we’ve watched business owners come up with innovative ways to not just exist in this current climate, but to give back to their own communities as well, donating proceeds of profits to help get personal protective equipment for health care providers, feeding those in need, and more. And let’s not forget the ways they’re helping us navigate (and make the most of) our daily lives spent mostly at home by offering curbside pickup or meal delivery services, virtual consultations, hand-delivered gift baskets for celebrations, book subscriptions, livestream workouts, and more. If that’s not a reason to pause, honor, and thank our local small businesses, we don’t know what is.

We realize that not everyone is in a position right now to spend money on goods or services, local or otherwise. However, if you can, we implore you to support the small businesses in your town. Even if shopping right now seems like a frivolous luxury, please consider that making a purchase might be the difference between a business staying open or shutting its doors for good. If you’re looking for ways to connect with your local small businesses and find out what their current offerings are, our local editors would love to help, and are constantly providing updates on their online channels. You can also search our online directory.

When the time comes, we look forward to having the celebrations that we’d planned in person. In the meantime, thank you for your commitment to supporting local, independent businesses, and for being part of our journey.

Stay safe, and be well,
Susie Matheson and Christy Ford

Photography by Kate Thompson.