As a retail shop owner in a small town, and as a resident of Connecticut, I can sympathize with the storekeepers in Sandy Hook who lost some good holiday business because of the horrendous tragedy that occurred at the Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14th, 2012.
However, I’ve read articles that have put forth that some of these store owners feel “left out” because they too, have been victims of the tragedy. That’s what this “Cash Mob” movement is all about–to bring some money into the local stores to make up for the losses they have incurred because of media and public interest who came, parked, but didn’t buy. And, by that inundation of non-purchasing bodies and their cars in the town, keeping away the possible shoppers. Here’s the group behind it in their own words: I Love Sandy Hook.
What bothers me first of all, is that they would use the tragic event to elicit financial help. Yes, they’ve suffered some loss, but nothing, absolutely nothing compared to losing a child or a loved one. While I understand the relative loss to the event, I couldn’t in good conscience use it to make up for that loss. Hold an after-Christmas sale. A Welcome Spring! blitz. Whatever. But to cry victim is repugnant to me. There is business insurance that covers loss of income though not likely for something other than a natural event such as fire, tornado, flood. Still, when you’re in business there is always a risk. A farmer cannot depend on the public’s tastes anymore than the weather. A fisherman cannot depend upon the sea. Retailers cannot depend upon nor sue the public for a poor economic period of time. You can’t sue the town for fixing the road in front of your store inhibiting traffic flow. It’s called the cost of doing business; it’s built into the price.
Secondly, how much did they really lose versus the economic influence of the times. And, while some lost business, I somehow doubt that the local eateries–which lead the list of businesses taking part in this “help us” day–likely made out better than they normally would. Diners, gas stations, and horrid to say, but florists and funeral homes gained from the tragedy. Shall they be asked to reimburse those who didn’t make out so well? Calling oneself a victim implies a perpetrator. Should the town have kept out the press, the curious, the have-to-be-a-part-of-it public? How will these businesses feel when a few years ahead someone wants to use the town for a movie on the tragedy? Will they feel the same way?
Third, the businesses ARE being helped to overcome their loss; by special grant from the Governor of the State of Connecticut: Economic Assistance Grant To the tune of a half million dollars for a small handful of businesses.
As a retailer, if this happened in my town, I’d be closed for “Cash Mob” Day. I’d leave a closed box outside my doorstep with a request that if anyone were generous enough to come and plan on spending $20 in my shop, I’d prefer they instead drop it in the box. The funds to be distributed to bills incurred by the families of the victims who on top of the loss of their loved one, had the indignity of maybe having trouble paying for funeral expenses as well.