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Newsom Issues Patronizing Message About Small Business

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.”

 

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:

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