Local artist spreading message to support area businesses

Signs featuring Uncle Sam encourage shopping small
December 4, 2020

From the moment restrictions were placed on small businesses and restaurants in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, local artist Abraxas Hudson was worried about the sustainability of the local economy. Now, nearly nine months later, his concerns are as strong as ever. 

As the Cape Region moves into the holiday shopping season with strict restrictions still in place, he’s started a grassroots effort to encourage shopping small to help keep locally owned businesses afloat until life returns to normal. It also serves as a protest of the state’s restrictions.

So far, he and a few others have strategically placed about 350 signs featuring Uncle Sam and the text “Small businesses/You are all essential!” across the state, from Fenwick Island up to the Pennsylvania border. Many are placed at high-traffic intersections, while others have appeared near big-box stores.

“This was inspired from listening to stories from around the country,” Hudson said. “What I’m hearing is on average 25 percent to 30 percent of small businesses in various states being shuttered. My genuine concern comes from the prolonged shutdown scenarios. My question is quite simple: Who will pick up the pieces?”

He designed and produced the sign after Gov. John Carney tightened restrictions on restaurants just ahead of Thanksgiving. The latest restrictions dropped maximum capacity to 30 percent for indoor dining. Shortly after the announcement, Hudson said, he received two phone calls from people who canceled trips to the area because of the new restrictions.

“In the off-season, you have shopping and dining,” he said. “Once the dining gets hit, it affects the whole experience of visiting the beach. For me, that’s when it became clear. Although I’m not directly affected by the current restriction, it’s still affecting me.”

He said the same can be said for almost every other locally owned business in the Cape Region. It’s important to keep as many dollars on Delmarva as possible, he said.

“We are all intricately connected,” he said. “Restaurants rely on farmers. I rely on my printer and picture framers, and they rely on me. Newspapers rely on ad revenue from local businesses. Bars rely on our local distilleries. And our hotels are suffering due to restaurant restrictions, and on and on. We all need hope and community support as we head into another uncertain winter.”

The feedback about the signs so far has been very positive and encouraging, he said. He believes it’s an indication that many people prefer to make their own decisions about their health and possible exposure to the virus. 

“The things that make us unique on Planet Earth are our individual liberties, secured in our founding documents. It’s up to us to preserve those liberties,” he said. “If people wait too long to stand up, it’ll be too late. If you stand up after you’ve closed your doors and gone out of business, what are you standing up for then?”


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