Shop, eat, support local.

For years, this newspaper has been encouraging Darien residents to support local retailers and eateries. This was especially true during the quieter winter months and desolate summer months.

But never was it more serious than it is now.

The pandemic’s forced closure of businesses will have an impact yet to be seen. There are likely to be Darien businesses that might not reopen at all. Meanwhile, many big box stores, because they are deemed essential, have been able to stay open, with social distancing, throughout.

Now that Darien’s businesses are allowed to slowly reopen for shopping and eating, it has never been more important to patronize them — if you have the means.

This might be harder for some than for others. Many in Darien are struggling emotionally, economically or unemployed as a result of the last few months. And the community has done its best to step up to help — whether it be tax relief, food donations, or just positive encouragement.

But if you do have the means, the time is now to invest in your local businesses. Even if you don’t need to buy something or eat out right now, take a hint from Darien teen Sophie Curtis who orchestrated a local gift card exchange. Buy a gift card as a gift or for yourself later. As many point out, buying a gift card now invests cash in local business without also costing them the immediate resources back out.

The pandemic, while also costing precious open hours for Darien’s businesses, has also psychologically encouraged individuals to avoid personal interaction. This drives buyers even more to online shopping than they were already, which was already costing local businesses. Amazon and the like have been busier than ever while your local retailers have been hurting.

The time is now, as Darien’s businesses are welcoming you back, to open your wallets and your hearts in support. Obviously, using safe social distance practices is imperative and no one should be going out if they are immune-compromised. But also, a lot of this doesn’t have to happen in person. You can order contactless delivery. You can order a gift card online. You can buy or order for curbside pickup.

With each phase of reopening, skip the online and big box and direct your resources and support to Darien’s businesses of all kinds. Summer is nearly upon us and with that will come an already tough time.

The time for your action is now — because the impact and changes to Darien’s local retailers and restaurants could be forever.