RANDOLPH, NJ- Morris County Surrogate Heather Darling, NJ Senator Tony Bucco were among many local leaders who spoke up at a rally in Randolph to urge NJ Governor Phil Murphy to release the chains that are binding small business owners in NJ.

The “Rally to Save NJ Businesses” was organized and hosted by Jennifer Rogers, owner of Randolph Tennis and Pickleball Center.  The rally was held outside in her parking lot, and was designed to bring together suffering small businesses who are seeking to open their doors in a safe, smart, responsible manner.

After being forced to close by government directive for 75 days, many businesses have reached the tipping point where suffering has now turned into threatening their survival.

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“Saying that this pandemic has changed my entire world is an understatement,” said Rogers as she welcomed the guests.  “I thought we would be closed 2 weeks, but then it became 1 month, 2 months, and now 75 days, which is almost a quarter of the year. This is not survivable for much longer.

Rogers continued, “My plea today on behalf of all of us to Gov. Murphy, is to please show compassion to those of us struggling, and give us a timeframe and details on what opening up will look like.”

Many of the businesses in attendance had their banners on display along the fences in the parking lot.  The fences were there because Rogers chose to erect them temporarily in order to create outdoor courts so that some of her employees could give lessons. It was her way of getting a small slice of revenue in the door, even if it only represents pennies on the dollar.

“We as small business owners deserve the same rights and opportunities as the big box stores,” said Darling when she got up to speak.  “You want to be trusted to do the same thing that big box – so called necessary businesses – are trusted to do.  To open your doors and exercise due care in operating your business.”

The attendees at the rally was also treated to a Zoom call from NJ Senator Tony Bucco, whose live message was played over the speakers from the DJ booth.

“Todays rally is so important, and unfortunately now we are at a crossroads,” said Buccs.  Many have gone from struggling to now deciding whether to close their doors forever, and tragically for some it is already too late.”

Bucco called on the governor to trust that small business owners know how to safely operate.

“The bottom line is this – you are all smart enough and responsible enough to open your businesses according to the protocol in your industry,” You know what to do to keep your employees and customers safe.  Governor Murphy needs to have faith that you will do the right thing in order to continue your business.”

After several other speakers, Rogers pulled a business card out from all the attendees, and awarded a cash prize to the winner, a closed CKO location.

All in all, the event was deemed a success by Rogers.

“It was great to see so many people turn out today because it really helps all of us as business owners to feel supported and not forgotten,” said Rogers.  “The feedback I received has all been positive towards the event. We had some wonderful small businesses speaking about what they do, and it gave all of us hope by seeing so much support.”