I recently learned to ask ‘How’s the business doing lately?’ in almost every place that I buy stuff. I guess I started doing this as a result of the economic crisis. I ask these questions to the grocers, the dumpling lady, and the noodle stall people. Not only that but all the way up to local business, the upscale restaurant owners I came across in the neighborhood.

The answers vary from ‘No profit today’, ‘I’ve had to streamline my employee structure.’ to ‘We might have to close down for good if this goes on for another year.’ Usually, these answers come bursting out as if they were waiting for someone to ask. Sadly, I haven’t heard one positive answer recently.

This sits in stark contrast to earlier this year when the spirit of Thai selfie culture was very much alive and keeping Ari humming. Not a month went by without a new ‘Instagrammable cafe’ popping up in Ari-Saphan Kwai. Now restaurants are closed. Those who remain are the street vendors. They say ‘How should I make a living if I weren’t out on the street?’

I ask myself that too, sometimes. This is what we get from living in a country with nihilistic expectations.  We hope that our tax money might be there to offer us a safety net one day.

So I’d like to encourage us to buy products and services from a local business. We might have to sacrifice a bit of quality or the price may not be as cheap as those products out of factories with the capacity to churn out hundreds of thousands of units per day.

I have seen a project manager turned into a Kao Mun Gai vendor. Many turn their condo into cloud kitchens for food delivery. Then, Someone gave me a bottle of their homemade soy milk for free just, so I can buy from them next time.

These days, your purchases are an act of kindness, neighborly bonding, and support for those in need. Local purchases and a kind-hearted connection – for me, that’s what a strong community is built on.


Photography: @falsedigital

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