I hope you are shopping locally whenever possible.

COVID-19 has rewritten the rules for nearly every aspect of our lives. 

Until a vaccine is developed and widely distributed, we are all in a brand new world. Until then, elementary classrooms will not fill with dozens of students. We won’t be elbowing up to the stage at a concert and squeezing into the tiny middle seat of an airplane will make us feel strangely threatened.

But we need to make sure we do not lose our connection to the local businesses making up the threads of our community. Doing so could leave this critical fabric in tatters.

While large corporations get the glamor and attention when courting a local community, small businesses quietly go about their activities. No glitz, no massive tax breaks. I would bet if you step out your front door, you can toss a rock into the yard of someone either owning or working for a small business. I know I can.

My wife and I are slowing getting back out as local businesses struggle to reopen.

We are both careful and cautious but know we are ultimately responsible for our health. Strangely, a face mask hanging from the rearview mirror of our cars is becoming the  norm.

Today, as so many local businesses — and by direct relation, neighbors — struggle to regain financial footing, look at your choice of shopping as an investment. 

When you have a choice, make it local. Invest with the businesses you know whose roots are firmly grounded in your community with blood, sweat, and tears.

As local restaurants began to reopen, my wife and I sought out specific favorites of ours to visit. The driving factor? W

e wanted to support those we did not want to disappear from our community and lives. Previously our modest dinner might not have made the difference between them being open, but now it just might. And that would hurt our community.

The other day I needed a can of spray paint. I had three choices — online, a mega store or one where the store owner lives locally. 

Doing so, in small part, ensures he will continue to operate his business, hire young local students, and make modest but essential contributions to local charities.

And for the price of a can of gloss clear coat, I cast my vote.

Locally-grown and managed businesses are so much more than the sign on the side of the road. Picture the face of the person who created this dream or where someone landed their first job. 

Think of the families, depending on these modest businesses for a paycheck. Most shops may be small compared to those making national headlines, but locally and collectively, they are the heartbeat of our community. 

They are too small to fail.

As we all learn to shape our new reality, let’s commit to spending our dollars with a purpose — one we carry with the respect we do in the voting booth.

Leonard Woolsey is president of Southern Newspapers Inc. and publisher of The Daily News in Galveston County, Texas.