Editorial: 14-hour wait for In-n-Out doesn’t sit well when local establishments dying

Word that waits for In-N-Out’s new Aurora location hit a staggering 14 hours struck a chord with social-media managers of Boulder’s Mountain Sun Pub & Brewery, which serves a mean burger of its own:

“This about this when you wait in line for your In-N-Out burger,” the company posted on Facebook, Nov. 22, above a Westword list of dozens of Denver-area restaurants that have shut down since March.

Folks at Mountain Sun have a point: Small, locally owned restaurants are struggling to stay in business and now face a double hit of winter months that make outdoor dining difficult if not impossible and heightened COVID-19 restrictions that prohibit indoor dining along most of the Front Range.

Add in local breweries and small retailers, and the winter months threaten to send dozens more locally owned businesses into permanent closure.

It’s great that In-N-Out has come to Colorado, but Colorado residents would do well to consider how their dollars can best be spent to bolster the local economy, and it’s not by spending with large national chains that are better poised to weather the COVID storm.

Others have gotten the message. The U.S. Small Business Administration’s Colorado District Office recently announced that it was joining with the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade to promote the state’s #ShopLocalColorado social-media and outreach campaign.

In addition to marketing Small Business Saturday, the #ShopLocalColorado campaign provides small businesses with holiday marketing tips, social-media graphics and other information.

But local residents can do a great deal to mitigate the impact on local businesses. Instead of ordering a book from Amazon, considering ordering from the Boulder Book Store or other local shops. Instead of buying that new china or kitchen gadget online, look to The Cupboard in Fort Collins or The Peppercorn in Boulder. Buy gift cards or order takeout from local restaurants or breweries — such as Mountain Sun — and tip as if you’re dining or drinking onsite. Or go to the Visit Fort Collins Marketplace, a new “Amazon” for local businesses.

Finding local establishments to support is easy: Just visit your local chamber of commerce or downtown business association website. Think about the retailers that you would normally support, and look for new ones worthy of your funds.

And while you’re at it, consider a nice donation to a local nonprofit. Colorado Gives Day is Dec. 8, and it’s the perfect time to help philanthropic organizations, which have also been hard-hit by declining donations under COVID, even as demand for their services increases.

If everyone pays it forward, we can emerge from COVID with most of our small businesses and nonprofits intact.