Woodstock, IL— Amid the economic stress created by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, State Representative Steve Reick is co-sponsoring legislation filed by Mark Batinick (R-Plainfield) and Ryan Spain (R-Peoria) to help support small businesses.
The legislation, called the Fair Business Treatment Act, proposes that small businesses be given the same opportunities currently enjoyed by larger, big box stores. Representative Reick has been a strong advocate for small businesses in McHenry County, and was instrumental in convincing the Governor to allow local garden centers and greenhouses to open as “essential” businesses on May 1. He believes that allowing large retail stores to remain open and sell items available at local small businesses, which remain closed under the Governor’s executive orders not only undercuts efforts to get the local economy back on its feet but also creates an unsafe environment for consumers.
“The current situation simply makes no sense,” said Reick. “If a person wants to buy a pair of shoes, why is it that the customer can go to a big box store and buy them, but not the shoe store on Main Street? Why should everyone be forced to shop in crowded big boxes when by having more stores open, the customer base can be spread out?”
According to Reick, small businesses can provide as safe, if not safer environment for consumers to shop when compared to the high traffic volumes larger stores are experiencing right now.
In a recent statewide poll conducted by Ogden and Fry, Illinois residents strongly support opening small retail businesses if they follow the same social distancing requirements as big box stores. Of the 493 polled, 75% agreed that small retail stores should be open.
“As long as independent businesses follow the same social distancing practices followed by everyone else, to not allow them to open simply creates more big box winners and shutters more mom-and-pop independent businesses,” Reick continued. “There’s no such thing as a ‘non-essential’ business to the man or woman who has poured heart and soul into making their American Dream come true. Among Illinois’ greatest strengths is its “Main Street” products and services. If we don’t act to save them now, there will be little left to save.”
The legislation is currently being drafted, and it is hoped that it will be introduced in the abbreviated session of the Legislature which is scheduled to be held next week in Springfield.