A question for Gavin Newsom: Does eating at a Michelin-starred restaurant in Napa Valley count as “shopping local” for Christmas? Asking for a governor friend.
In case you haven’t faced any admonitions to shop local for the holidays on social media, brace yourselves: Christmas is coming.
There are two groups of people who are about to unleash a raft of posts reminding you it’s your moral imperative to shop with small businesses.
The first — and most aggressive — group involves your Etsy merchant friends on Facebook, who’ll make it clear that if you go to Target or Lowe’s for anything, you’re a nuclear schmuck, and if they outlive you, they’ll dance on your grave or wherever you’re ashes are scattered. (Disappointingly, this is only slightly hyperbolic.)
The second group is politicians. This is usually pro forma nonsense tweeted out by their staff. In 2020, however, there’s a problematic irony to these messages, as Newsom, California’s Democratic governor, discovered this weekend.
“Today is Small Business Saturday. California is home to over 4 million small businesses,” he tweeted. “This holiday season, shop safe and shop local to help support our economy and the over 7 million workers that help keep our small businesses going.”
Today is Small Business Saturday. California is home to over 4 million small businesses. This holiday season, shop safe and shop local to help support our economy and the over 7 million workers that help keep our small businesses going.
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) November 28, 2020
Newsom’s lockdown rules have been some of the strictest in the country, which is why many of those California small businesses have remained shut down — and will never reopen.
In one commercial plaza in San Jose, for instance, only 30 percent of businesses could pay rent during the worst months of the pandemic, KGO-TV reported.
“I could lose everything. It would be sad because my family, we’ve been here for 32 years,” said Christina Bui, whose shop has lost 80 percent of its business.
The Golden State went on another round of stringent lockdowns — including a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew — earlier this month after COVID-19 cases started increasing. According to U.S. News and World Report, California reported a seven-day average of 11,500 cases in the third week of the month, which was triple what the state saw three months earlier.
The lockdowns have frustrated business owners, particularly given the lockdown came after Newsom’s infamous visit to the Michelin-starred French Laundry restaurant, roughly an hour’s drive from the state capital in Sacramento.
The governor has claimed helping small business is at the top of his agenda.
“My top priority, moving into presentation of the January budget, is to support our small businesses,” the governor said at a news conference this month.
There weren’t many people to point out an easier way to do this might have been to resist setting curfews and shuttering businesses, but there you go.
If those on social media heard Newsom say his top priority in the budget was small business funding, they didn’t find it credible. Here were some of the responses — those that can be passed along, anyway:
Well, we would, but you forced them all to close.
— Nazanin Nour (@NazaninNour) November 28, 2020
Everyone enjoy the last small business Saturday. 50% of these business will not survive this lockdown. And the other 50% will limp along until the next lockdown.
— mr_eagleR? (@mr_eagleR) November 28, 2020
It’s like all of the Democrat Governors are in competition to see who can be the worst.
— RAM (Richard Armande Mills) (@RAMRANTS) November 28, 2020
You’ve earned five clowns: ?????
— Seth Dillon (@SethDillon) November 29, 2020
And especially in Los Angeles, the ONLY county where outdoor dining is closed, despite LA being ranked 15th today in terms of cases per capita. With no aid or grants on the horizon, I fear this may finally put my beautiful brewery out of business and my staff jobless.
— Jennifer Febre (@jenfeb) November 28, 2020
Why are Big Box companies “essential” and small businesses had to close, by your order?
— Libertarian Party of California (@LPofCal) November 28, 2020
The other responses probably shouldn’t be shared here, given they mostly involve a word that starts with the fifth letter of the alphabet. Vulgar, but understandable, given that just before his state implemented its more stringent lockdown measures this month, the governor was at a birthday party in a restaurant where meals start at $350 per person, all with more than three households and in what looked like an indoor setting.
EXCLUSIVE: We’ve obtained photos of Governor Gavin Newsom at the Napa dinner party he’s in hot water over. The photos call into question just how outdoors the dinner was. A witness who took photos tells us his group was so loud, the sliding doors had to be closed. 10pm on @FOXLA pic.twitter.com/gtOVEwa864
— Bill Melugin (@BillFOXLA) November 18, 2020
Newsom had previously implored residents to pull up their masks “between bites” at restaurants. Perhaps these pictures were taken when everyone was simultaneously chewing.
The governor isn’t the only one facing a backlash for a “support small businesses” tweet. Democratic vice presidential candidate and California Sen. Kamala Harris, who had supported a bail fund for individuals charged with rioting in Minnesota, also tweeted her support for small businesses (some of which presumably would have preferred not to have incurred property damage in the riots):
You bailed out the rioters and looters who did the damage. I believe the small businesses should be assisted. They don’t want to be bailed out. Small businesses just want to work and open.
— Gwynn Weaver (@gwynnweaver) November 29, 2020
Newsom, however, was the easiest target, particularly after his field trip to the French Laundry.
At least he’s supported one small business, but I can think of a way he could support a lot more of them.
No, politicians aren’t as overbearing as your Etsy-loving friends. No matter how much shade they throw your way, however, at least they aren’t hypocrites on a Newsomesque scale. You have to give them that.
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