Across the country, small businesses have been forced to lay off employees or even close their doors in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, unsure of whether they will have the means to reopen again when this season has passed.
These changes and closures in small businesses affect not only the local and national economy but the lives and wellbeing of our own neighbors. The bakery with your favorite pastries, a barista who knows your name, the bookstore down the street owned by a husband and wife team, a family-owned diner with the best breakfast sandwiches around — all of the local spots that hold fond memories of better days need our help now more than ever.
And if we want to make sure they are still there to see better days, we need to do our part — even during quarantine — to support them. Here are some ideas as to how.
Order in or take out
During this time, many restaurants, coffee shops, bakeries, and even bookstores have started offering curbside pickup and delivery options to their customers.
You can keep giving your business to your favorite places (or try somewhere new) without even leaving your home. Call in dinner orders or have an exciting new read delivered to your doorstep. See if you can pay online or over the phone to minimize the exchange of cash or cards and the spread of germs.
Purchase gift cards
Buying gift cards is an easy and effective way to support local businesses during this time. Gift cards give the businesses an immediate source of revenue that can be used to keep their lights on and pay their employees, and they can easily be saved by the consumer to celebrate and enjoy after this crazy season has passed.
You can often buy gift cards for local businesses online, and have the gift card delivered digitally through email, again minimizing the spread of germs.
Buy local when possible
Instead of hitting up the big box stores like Walmart or Target for needed items, opt for locally-sourced products instead. You can buy whole or ground coffee from the local coffee shop, or (depending on where you live) even buy your meat and vegetables from the farmers market.
While locally-sourced products can come with a higher price tag, you can guarantee that the money is poured right back into your community, especially important during this difficult time.
Keep your memberships
With the temporary closing of nonessential businesses like gyms, museums, and kids’ indoor playgrounds, your existing memberships may have been also temporarily suspended.
If you have the means to do so, consider contacting the business to see if it is possible for them to keep your membership going over the next few months — even if it’s for a reduced rate. Even though you won’t physically benefit from keeping the membership, the money you put toward it will help the business open up again when this is all over. If it’s a business that you value, it’s worth investing in their longevity.
Donate your time
Are you tech-savvy? Are you proficient in website developing or graphic design?
If so, maybe you can offer your expertise to a local business that has yet to make the leap to building their online presence. Or you can start a website or Facebook group dedicated to highlighting businesses in your community that you can still support during quarantine.
Using some of your free time during quarantine to help small, local businesses succeed is time well spent.
Share the love
If your budget doesn’t permit putting money back into the local economy, never fear — there are still ways for you to help support your neighbors and small businesses.
Consider leaving a review of your favorite local spots. Share cool promotions or your positive experiences with your friends on social media, encouraging them to give their support.
If we work together, we can positively affect the lives of those in our community and bring unity to our neighborhood.