Social distancing and shelter-in-place protocols have eliminated the foot traffic (and the cash that comes with it!) that keep small businesses afloat. Now, many businesses in your town are struggling to make ends meet—customers may no longer be coming in, but bills and wages still need to be paid.
You might be surprised how much you can do—from a safe distance—to support your favorite local businesses and keep your hometown’s economy humming until the shutdown is lifted. In a time when many are feeling powerless to make a change in the world, we’re here to show you that you can make an enormous difference. In fact, it’s up to you and your neighbors to keep your main street in business.
Why is this important? Because local businesses bring economic growth to your hometown! They provide jobs, often donate and support local non-profits, and sell services and products unique to the needs of your community.
Here are the many ways you can support and patronize local small businesses while staying safe during lockdown:
Delivery brings the joy of main street to you! Many businesses that previously did not have delivery or curb-side pick-up options now do! Have a craving for a cup of coffee from a local coffee shop? See if they’ll deliver ground coffee to you. Missing your morning croissant? The bakery might deliver a dozen to you! From restaurants to bookshops, coffee shops, hardware stores, flower shops, and clothing boutiques, you can have items come to you. If the store website hasn’t been updated with delivery options, pick up the phone and call to ask.
Ordering delivery keeps businesses open and staff employed. If you’re ordering from a food establishment, see if they offer their own delivery service option instead of going through GrubHub or DoorDash. These services take a cut of the cash and a restaurant may not be able to afford their service.
Load up on gift cards. Buying gift cards or credit to use later in the year at favorite restaurants, stores, hair salons, spas, childcare providers, and even the hardware store gives those businesses the cash flow they need now. And don’t forget buying gift cards for others! Any high school or college seniors in your life who are missing out on their graduations would surely appreciate gift cards!
Share discounts, promotions, and delivery menus online. If your favorite café or shop is offering discounts, free/discount/new delivery service, or a new take-out menu, share it on social media. Spreading the word can do a world of good for a business, especially for those whose typical marketing plans have been curtailed or thwarted altogether by a lockdown.
See how local businesses have adapted—they may have new or changed options you didn’t know you could use! To survive, small businesses are adapting services and even the products they carry. See if your local toy store is now selling homeschool supplies. Maybe a craft store is selling bundled craft projects for kids and adults with online tutorials.
Keep paying. If you have the financial means, consider continuing to pay service providers like your cleaning person, hair stylist, nanny, etc. If you already paid for a class or event that was canceled, instead of asking for a refund donate that money to the organization.
See who’s offering services online. Everyone from therapists to tutors, yoga instructors and personal trainers, coaches, financial planners, lawyers, and chefs and bakers are moving their expertise online to share with you.
Tip service workers extra. It can be that simple.
Donate to local fundraising campaigns. Nonprofits like performing arts centers, museums, animal shelters, social care/human service providers, community film theaters, etc. are also struggling without continued patronage. Donate to ensure they can survive and continue to offer their precious services.
Look for and buy promotional products, like t-shirts, made by local business associations where the proceeds go to supporting hard-hit businesses. And then use, wear, and show off that product with pride!
Find local options first. If you used to purchase an item online from a marketplace (like Amazon) or big-box store, look for local suppliers to buy from instead. You may find that with discounts to encourage orders, local options are just as economical or cheaper to buy now!
Leave uplifting messages and reviews on the phone or online. Sometimes a kind word from a customer can go a long way to brighten a dark time for small businesses.
Take on home projects and repairs. Call your local hardware store and get advice on what you might need and ask for a delivery. They may even be able to consult and answer questions via phone or video.
See if your favorite farmers market vendors are doing deliveries! Eating fresh and local has perhaps never been so important. You may be able to get your fruit, veggies, dairy, homemade soaps, and even seedlings delivered to you.