Can you help save mom-n-pops? You can, if you’re a consumer, a resident, or an elected official.

Here are two easy dos.


This is one of the easiest ways to support our local economy, and preserve our community character. Mom-n-pops are the quintessential part of every community. They’re among the most hardworking people, so hands-on that they tend to have a story about everything they offer. These stories become memories for locals, and attractions for tourists.

When you buy local, the tax dollars stay in the city, are used for local services, such as police, roads, parks, senior services, etc. Everyone in the city gets the benefit.

Some Chambers of Commerce have done Buy Local campaigns. And some Cities have supported them. But frankly, running a Buy Local campaign in December is like working on a new year resolution at the gym in January. The Chambers have limited capacity. This is the time for Cities and County to team up with them, run a campaign that would stick in the mind, like the water conservation campaign by Water Districts.

I’ve been proposing this for years. I never saw so many actions like last week since Governor Newsom ordered no dine-in at restaurants to limit the spread of coronavirus. This is a start.

Is restaurant takeout safe? According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “Currently there’s no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with food . . . It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.” Dr. Richard Garfein, guest speaker at Congressman Mike Levin’s town hall, talked about a MIT study on how long the concentrated virus would survive on different surfaces: a few hours on copper, twenty-four hours on cardboard and stainless steel, up to three days on plastic. So, wash your hands, then enjoy the takeout.

Seriously, I’m touched by the strength mom-n-pop restaurants are demonstrating. Some expand service to grocery delivery, some support their peers with free food, and more. Please support these resilient souls, buy extra, and tip generously.


Some of the nonessentials in a takeout order are utensils, condiment packets, straws, lid plugs and napkins. If you’ll eat at home, can you tell the restaurants to save them? If you’re a City Councilmember or County Supervisor, can you agendize a serve-on-request ordinance?

These are small dos. If everyone does them, the money will add up. Thank you! And please share any ideas you have to help the mom-n-pops.

Hoiyin Ip is an environmental activist, who is often reminded the words by former California Coastal Commission Executive Director Peter Douglas: “The coast is never saved. It’s always being saved.”

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