As endless $1,200 checks fall into the bank accounts of Americans everywhere, four recent graduates have launched a pledge encouraging citizens to spend the money at small businesses.
Pledge 1200 was founded by a recent University of Washington alumni, Aubrey MacKenzie, to call attention to the economic stress small businesses and their employees are facing during the current pandemic.
“Whatever you can pledge, it makes a difference,” MacKenzie said. “It’s important to note that this isn’t a donation and we’re not handling any money. We’re just challenging people to think critically about where they are spending this money.”
MacKenzie said he understands most people are unable to pledge all $1,200 because this money has to go towards necessities first, such as rent and groceries. He is asking people to consider spending even a small portion of the stimulus check to support small businesses.
Woodinville residents have plans to use their allotted government money for a wide range of payments, including tuition and student debt, medical costs for humans and animals, credit card bills, car loans and taxes. While a number of residents have yet to receive their checks, others shared intentions to shop local, donate to charity and food banks, help the community and Northshore Senior Center, buy new technology and save up for a post-pandemic vacation.
When MacKenzie first heard about the Senate’s proposed plan to give most Americans $1,200, he said his mind immediately jumped to how he would spend the money. He noticed that a lot of his favorite shops and restaurants in Seattle now have plywood over their doors and windows as a result of the devastating economic impacts caused by COVID-19.
“Instead of going out and buying the first thing I want, it (the pledge) started as a way to spend my money where it matters and where it would have a big impact,” MacKenzie said.
He said small businesses employ half the private workforce in the United States. With lots of bills still left to pay, some small businesses have lost close to 80% of revenue, he added.
The Pledge 1200 team has been reaching out to small businesses and asking them to share how they have been impacted by the pandemic and how customers can help. MacKenzie said it has been humbling to hear the stories of what small businesses are going through during this unprecedented time.
While small businesses may find it tough to share a vulnerable position about the harsh reality of this economic struggle, MacKenzie said customers have responded with more support for businesses being open and honest about their situation.
“This has spread beyond my network in a powerful way,” he said. “People are really responsive to this message.”