If there's one thing all small business owners know deep in their bones, it's that they can never take their customers for granted.
And nor should we, as customers, take our local business community for granted - not when times are tough and the pandemic is proving hard even for long-time Canberra institutions to bear.
Two of our most-read stories last week involved the closure of much-loved Canberra eateries. One was a stalwart in the cheap-and-cheerful Asian food scene, Sammy's, that had been trading for decades. The other was a surprise hit deep in Canberra's multicultural community - the bistro and bar attached to the Polish White Eagle Club.
Reactions to both announcements were swift and heartfelt; many people expressed their disappointment, sorry and sympathy for these long-running eateries.
But it should also give us pause to consider what we can do to support such businesses through these difficult times.
Canberra is not in lockdown, although it is understandable that many of us are reticent to spend too much time outside the house, in restaurants, bars or other crowded indoor venues. As the virus rages outside, the lockdown routines feel instinctive.
But, just as we rallied to support our local businesses during the last two lockdowns, so, too, should we be uniting to support them in what is arguably an even tougher phase of this pandemic.
Things are different this time. With a large proportion of the population vaccinated and the current COVID variant both milder and more virulent, our government has opted to keep borders - and businesses - open and rely on "personal responsibility" to see us through this latest wave; one that will likely see the vast majority of us infected one way or another.
And this time, there is no JobKeeper, or indeed any financial support, to see local businesses through this wave. Many businesses that were able to survive during the last two lockdowns - while lockdown rules were in place and the economy was protected somewhat by government support.
But without JobKeeper, many of these small businesses - the backbone of our economy - will and are already failing, particularly in areas like hospitality.
More support is going to be needed in 2022; we can't just throw these businesses under the bus if we want them to survive.
In other words, we can't take businesses for granted. Many who have grown up in Canberra can barely imagine it without Sammy's. You might not have dined there particularly often, but it was always, reliably, there as an option.
Now its Civic premises are closed, and while the closure may well be due to a dispute over rental fees, it's a useful reminder all businesses depend on our patronage, our support and our goodwill.
Without government assistance, the only support that can keep businesses afloat right now is ours.
The owners of the Polo Restaurant have been at pains to point out that community support had been "overwhelming", but that conditions had proved too difficult for them to continue trading.
Again, a useful reminder that until relatively recently, many businesses were only just starting to recover from the trials of the past two years.
It's now more important than ever to buy, shop and eat local, especially as nothing is preventing us from doing so.
If we don't step up to help our local business community, we'll start seeing more and more treasured institutions shutting their doors for good. It doesn't have to be that way.
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