In these ridiculously unusual times, it might be nice to hear a feelgood story every now and then. Fortunately, courtesy of Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, we have one today, which was lately relayed to Josh Yohe of The Athletic, who spoke to a local businessman about the charitable act the franchise quarterback performed.
Austin Smith and his father Scott are the proprietors of an ice cream shop called Any Given Sundae in Franklin Park. Last year, their little shop became a favorite of Roethlisberger’s, and it has become a common sight to see him there with his entire family, even sometimes his parents.
As the country was beginning to close down last month, Smith says that he came into his establishment, and the quarterback proceeded to buy gift certificates. And then he kept buying them, many more, to the tune of, what Yohe writes as, “many thousands of dollars”.
And then he randomly disbursed these gift certificates in the mailboxes of strangers. And he has done this with other local businesses as well. And apparently the only reason that we even know of this is because one of these owners decided to tell somebody.
“He deserves attention for what he did, honestly”, Smith told The Athletic, adding that “at that time, we didn’t even know if our business was going to be open the next day, or if we were going to have to shut down like other businesses. I can’t begin to tell you what an incredible relief it’s been for all of us. To say that it helped us would be a huge understatement. What it did was give us a really big cushion, a big relief. We are now under the belief that we’re going to be just fine financially whenever this all ends, whenever that is”.
Many hundreds, perhaps thousands, of small business around the country of closed down, perhaps for good, amid the shutdown all across the nation, an unfortunate but largely unavoidable byproduct of the social distancing mandates put in place to help curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic that has claimed tens of thousands of lives in the United States.
While some major metropolitan areas around the country appear to have reached the apex of their spread and have hit the plateau of their curve, there are other parts of the country who are only now beginning to be hit with the full brunt of what is to come.
The economic toll of the pandemic has been much debated, and with partisanship and vitriol. But yelling on the internet isn’t going to solve this problem or any others. Small businesses who have had to shut down can only be saved through patronage, such as by the purchasing of gift certificates, so if you want to support a local business that is important to you, buy one. it might be a ‘risky’ purchase, in the even that they close down, but for many, closing down would be the inevitable end result of a complete lack of patronage, a self-fulfilling prophecy.