Each year, around this time, we urge residents to support local businesses. Darien notoriously clears out as summer hits its midpoint. But if Darien dollars are fueling small businesses in Cape Cod, or Vermont, or Rhode Island, or maybe the Berkshires, what they aren’t doing is pumping life back into Darien’s retailers.

And that life isn’t just keeping Darien’s small businesses in the black this summer. No year in recent history has been harder on the small business than 2020. We have yet to fully understand the impact of what this pandemic will have on Darien’s and other small towns’ commercial landscape. And we can’t control what the future will bring.

What we can control, however, is where and how we spend the money we intend for shopping and dining. Next week, Darien’s small businesses are having special August sales and deals. If you love where you live, and love the ambiance of the independently owned business, reward your Darien retailers with your business.

Make no mistake — the closures may have been somewhat lifted, but the urgency is still there. Use all the wonderful slogans on the rocks spread around town — about love, resiliency and hope — and apply them to your approach to Darien’s businesses. Make sure you grab a bite to eat while you’re shopping in your favorite Darien eatery. Many have wide-ranging tents that give the perfect opportunity to maintain social distancing while eating outdoors.

The message this year is no longer “shop local.” It is “sustain” local. Between mandatory closures, quarantining, lack of entertaining and getting together, added to the appeal of socially antiseptic Amazon purchasing, many of your small businesses are clinging to a life raft.

The message this year is help Darien businesses survive.

Support your downtown next week during the summer sales, and regularly.

No purchase is too small. No patronage is too often. No recommendation to friends is too unnecessary.

But don’t wait too long.

Because by then, your dollars might be too late.