The little city of Clear Lake, Iowa holds a special place in my wife's and my heart.

Some dear friends of ours live down there, and we've enjoyed numerous trips over the past few years to visit. Cute local businesses like Cabin Coffee, Lake Time Brewery and GeJo's By the Lake Italian Restaurant only add to the charm of the Hallmark-like, lake-side community. Life seems simpler and quieter in Clear Lake, and it always feels like a welcome breath of fresh air whenever my wife and I visit.

I happened to see a Facebook post from the owners of Lake Time Brewery (which has a fantastic peanut butter porter, by the way!) that really opened my eyes to the plight of small businesses right now and made my heart hurt for them. Actually, the post was shared from another Iowa business The Cellar Peanut.

"We have been thinking of a way to publicly say how much we appreciate the local support and how Covid 19 has been affecting our family business," said the owners of Lake Time Brewery in their post. "Then Betsy and Marty Duffy [owners of The Cellar Peanut] posted this post and it pretty much sums up everything I wanted to say. It’s long but very to the point and truthful."

The original Facebook post from The Cellar Peanut is below. In it the Duffy's share just how difficult being small business owners is -- always, but especially right now. Because of their positions and status as LLC, they don't qualify for unemployment. Local economic groups are encouraging people to learn new skills during this time as if the Duffy's weren't already learning new skills like "new business model, new laws, new reporting, new forms to file, new emails to read, new bills, new cost increases". Their friends -- other small business owners -- are talking about throwing in the towel because they can't secure government assistance to keep their businesses afloat. "Anxiety is high, energy is low and tempers are embarrassingly over the top," and they fear that they can't and aren't providing the best for their kids. The Duffys go on to thank the local community for all their support. "We are thankful though for the kind words, for the little notes from people who see us. Those notes have made us sob out of gratitude." They conclude the Facebook post with a quote from Mr. Rogers -- "Imagine what our real neighborhoods would be like if each of us offered, as a matter of course, just one kind word to another person." I highly recommend you read the full Facebook post below (click "see more" to expand it).

Like the owners of Lake Time Brewery, many in the post's comment section echo what the owners of The Cellar Peanut share in their open and candid Facebook post, and I can't help but wonder if -- despite state lines and different governments -- our own local, small Minnesota businesses feel much the same way.

It's tempting -- and perhaps even justified -- to be more selfish than ever before as we look out for our own well-being and that of our family. We each have our own fears, concerns and needs during this time that deserve our attention. But the age-old truth remains the same that there's always someone out there who has it worse than we do. And if ever there's been a time to put our own needs and desires for the sake of another, it seems to me that it's now. Right now, small businesses -- like The Cellar Peanut and Lake Time Brewery in Iowa and those here in Minnesota and everywhere else -- need us. And, truth be told, we need them. They add value to our own local communities and economies. They succeed when we succeed, and vice versa. When this is all passed, wouldn't you want to look back and be able to say you helped your neighbor, your friend, your community get through this? I do. Don't know where to start? Like Mr. Rogers said, start with a kind word. But if you can do better, by all means do.

Join us in supporting local Minnesota businesses during this time when we shop at the Value Connection.

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