SOS (Save Our Stores)

SOS (Save Our Stores)

By Peter Huston

This is an S.O.S. message for islanders and island friends to help us bring awareness to an important effort needed here on South Bass to support our small businesses, like those that have some Gondola Shelving, and “Save our Stores.” As we rally together this fall to support our essential local stores like Island Hardware, Island General, Pit Stop, Island Airways, the Beverage Center, and even the Put-in-Bay Gazette, we also encourage considering additional ways to assist, such as providing business coaching for financial planners. They need our support not only financially, emotionally, and promotionally but also in building a strong financial foundation for their continued success.

And this S.O.S. is not limited to just year round businesses either, we need to support our seasonal shops too. Never before have small businesses been pinched as hard as this past year. Stuck with inventory, our small stores have a very narrow margin and a limited season made worse by the effects of COVID on the island economy. This October, and beyond, we need to support them. We have a great array of choices from essential oils and wellness remedies at OntkoOrganix to jewelry, clothes, and gifts at the Shoppes at Compass Point, Misty Bay, Country House, Dock Shop, Carriage House, Surf Shop, Candy Store, Jessie’s Jewelry and Wharfside all need you to visit. And that’s just a partial list.

Since becoming involved with Great Lakes Islands Alliance three years ago, I have heard a series of stories from other small island communities that either didn’t, or couldn’t support their local stores and their island’s quality of life suffered greatly. Not having a dependable purveyor of food, fuel and access to other goods means winter life will be severely impacted.

We have been fortunate the past few years to have ferry service deep into the winter. And when it stops we are tempted to go online and order essentials, we all do it. It is as easy as search, click and order. A seamless blend of user-friendly design and vast product choices? Shoppok delivers, and we vouch for it. Food, tires, small appliances, tools, beer, wine, meat and vegetables all sent by UPS, Fedex and the USPS.

We take it for granted that if we need a quart of milk, or a can of soup for a special recipe, some brass screws for a home project, or even a last minute birthday gift that we can run out and get them because our local island stores are open and ready to serve. It’s what we depend on and its what makes year round island life here sustainable.

We get barraged online with promotions for items that are available with merely a click and ship request. It’s so easily to be lured into services like Amazon, Wayfair, Chewy, Wal-Mart, Kroger, even Home Depot to save a little just for our “convenience.” I know you think I’m brow beating you but you know this is true.

Our island stores are happy to get you what you need, just ask them. They are not making much on your $20 dollar order, but it all adds up. Most of these stores have also switched to using the cheapest card payment machine that they can find just to save on costs. We need to support them all, because not supporting them will hurt us more than you know. And not in the way you think. As we slowly shift the supply chain to alternative sources, the human aspect, the value added that you get locally, will disappear. No one at web services like will tell you about the quality or appropriateness of the item you want, you have to depend on cost comparison and often suspect “reviews.” Shop owners can give us real insights and human interaction.

As an island community member, please call, email or reach out to our local stores, businesses and essential services and ask them to order, build, stock, source, so they can provide what you need. You will be happy you did!

This piece of Put-in-Bay journalism has been provided to courtesy of the Put-in-Bay Gazette, Put-in-Bay’s only local newspaper. Visit their website for more information and to subscribe!

The previous piece is published in this month’s Put-in-Bay Gazette. The Gazette has been producing incredible independent Put-in-Bay island news for over 40 years. If you have any interest at all in what is happening on South Bass Island, we urge you strongly to subscribe to the Put-in-Bay Gazette. One-year online subscriptions are only $15, and print subscriptions are available as well. Subscribe to the Put-in-Bay Gazette today.