Want to make an impact during this surreal time in history, when bars and restaurants are closing and residents are retreating into self-quarantine?

Three suggestions: Buy. Eat. Tip.

First, buy.

Throughout the region, stores are closing in an effort to stop the spread of coronavirus. These brick-and-mortar mainstays are the spine of local commerce, and the community will notice if they disappear.

If recent months are an indicator, some retailers may be hanging by a thread. Grand Forks has lost numerous stores in the past two years, ranging from the big (Macy’s, Sears and Kmart) to the small (Amazing Grains and Voxxy).

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It’s not unlikely that others could become victims to the region’s coronavirus response. When this all passes, please consider shopping local to give the region’s economy what certainly will be a needed boost.

Second, eat.

Numerous restaurants are temporarily closing or are expecting decreases because of coronavirus concerns. In Minnesota, Gov. Tim Walz has ordered all restaurants to only serve customers via takeout or delivery. There’s a chance the same could be coming for North Dakota.

So take advantage of it. Give your supply of ramen noodles a break and order from one of the many restaurants in Greater Grand Forks that could use the help.

People’s livelihoods are at stake. In many cases, these are family businesses that have been around for years. And all of them – from the legacy establishments to the fancy new chain restaurants – have employees who are at risk of losing hours, dollars or, perhaps, their job.

In response to the pandemic, many local restaurants are vowing to continue service via takeout and delivery. That’s very important as people continue to shelter in place for what could be weeks.

Help them out. Order delivery service. And tell them their efforts are appreciated.

Third, tip.

When a delivery person arrives with that food, don’t forget to tip. These folks are providing a necessary service during some frightening times; a few extra dollars won’t break most people’s budget, but for these workers, it could be a godsend.

We don’t blame Gov. Tim Walz for closing bars and restaurants in Minnesota. After all, any place where people congregate must be scrutinized. The number of Minnesota’s coronavirus cases has now surpassed 50.

The governor’s order also includes theaters, coffee houses, health clubs and other public places of “accommodation and amusement.”

And almost at the same time as the governor’s announcement came word that a national recession is expected in the second quarter of the year.

But we can help. As we hunker down in our shelters, we still can be eating food from most local restaurants. And when we emerge some weeks down the road, we can resupply at local stores and not through Amazon.

These are choices we all can make, and they are choices that could make a difference for these important businesses – and people – in our community.

As a public service, the Herald has opened this article to everyone regardless of subscription status.