Bricks and mortar need you.

By Richard Miller Richard Miller - May 22, 2020
By Richard Miller Richard Miller - May 22, 2020

Bricks and mortar need you.

The street scenes were eerie.

Normally bustling shopping strips and malls as empty as the tills that sat useless within the carcasses of its once vibrant stores, cafes and bars.

“Temporarily closed due to coronavirus restrictions” signs scribed by hand and stuck to windows featured in every shopfront. Some attempted a comedic and positive spin, whilst others reeked of nervousness and despair.

For those allowed to trade, there was the quandary of is it really worth it and for others, the daily battle with disgruntled customers fighting over the last packet of toilet roll.

Whilst for traders forced to close their doors completely, stand down their staff and go home, there was the real prospect of permanent closure and a future uncertain.

And what about us? The regular shoppers, drinkers, socialisers and diners. What were we to do now the rug of choice had whipped from under our feet?

Working from home was of course an immediate novelty that didn’t take too long to wear off. Some decided to take the opportunity to get some jobs done around the house and detox from their busy and chaotic lives.

Did it happen? Yeah, for some.

But most of us simply fell into the trap of convenience food, lack of exercise and repeating the phrase “it’s 5pm somewhere in the world” when pouring our first alcoholic drink mid-afternoon.

So, out of all this, what did we learn? Well, we remembered that the internet is a pretty bloody cool invention! Imagine trying to conduct business under these conditions 20 years ago. How many times have you said “gees, I wish I’d bought shares in Zoom”!

That’s a thing. The internet is bloody cool.

Though, as convenient as the world wide web has proven itself yet again to be, as easy as it became to stay in touch without leaving the lounge room or to order dinner for the family with the tap of an app, let’s just think about what we missed.

The primal need for human contact.

The clink of a glass and breaking of bread, dancing the salsa, holding hands, a kiss on the lips, bear hugs and back slaps and even just a casual glance.

Chats at the bar and exchange of pleasantries in the shops. Service with a smile and expert help.

All the things that make us feel human and loved.

So when we get back to the ‘new normal’, when the shops are open and bars are bustling again, maybe think about this; the retailers and hospitalians we once took for granted, that we threatened with convenience, boycotted for a cheaper overseas alternative or who’s competency to serve was questioned; these are the very humans we missed, that made our day and exchanged with us the interaction we now crave.

Maybe the thing we learned is not how bloody good the internet is, we already knew that. What if this experience helped us to learn what’s really important and has reset us to appreciate what we had?

As soon as possible, buy local. Shop in the shops, drink in the bars and dine in the restaurants.  Be kind, be giving and support those who have always been there for us. Bricks and mortar retail and hospitality needs us.

Let’s take this opportunity to come out of lockdown appreciating, supporting and enjoying each other; embrace the hustle and bustle because it beats isolation any day.