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You can help businesses rebuilding after fire

Businesses that lost buildings and inventory in last September’s Almeda fire are struggling back. Some have been forced to close their doors, but others are hanging on, hoping to recover along with the rest of the economy as the risk of COVID-19 transmission eases and the burned communities rebuild.

If, like many of those fortunate not to have been living in the fire’s path, you are wondering how you can help, there is one simple thing you can do.

Local business owners Clea Arthur and Brian Denner, who operate Simple Machine Winery in Talent, saw their investment and hard work go up in smoke when the fire destroyed their building. Thanks to insurance, they will rebuild, but their policy won’t cover the full cost. But as Arthur explained to our partner News 10, “Without the support of our customers, we totally would’ve thrown in the towel.”

Sales of the wine they had made before the fire will help them through, Arthur said.

D&S Harley-Davidson, the longtime Phoenix motorcycle dealership, just broke ground on a new store. The family-owned business had found temporary quarters in Medford, but is looking forward to a brand-new building on the site of the old one.

Family and friends helped make it possible.

But ultimately, family and friends won’t be enough to bring back D&S, Simple Machine or any of the other businesses that burned more than eight months ago. That’s where you come in.

Businesses can’t survive without customers. That’s especially true for locally owned small businesses.

Big-box chains can keep operating even if some of their locations lose money or suffer a downturn for a time. Economies of scale can keep a large corporation going as long as most of its outlets are turning a profit.

That’s not the case for local small businesses. If they don’t see steady sales from people walking in the door, that door will inevitably close.

Online merchants may be convenient, offering delivery of items to your door. But they don’t employ your friends and neighbors, or help support the local fire district or city government with their property taxes.

Local brick-and-mortar business do.

So when you need a bottle of good wine for a special dinner, or you’re in the market for a motorcycle, keep your dollars local. Patronize local businesses, especially those struggling to come back after the devastation of last September’s wildfire. You, and they, will be glad you did.