Local businesses, including service businesses, shops, and restaurants have faced an incredibly challenging few months. Starting in March many cities and states required non-essential businesses close their doors because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Even before businesses were required to close, many were already facing a serious downturn in business because people were unsure about the severity of the pandemic. For essential businesses that stayed open, again, they faced serious restrictions as far as how they did business and declines in customers because most people were social distancing at home.
Most states have started to open up again, but it’s a slow process. For example, you may be able to get Houston takeout in the city, but a lot of restaurants may not have completely reopened yet, or they may be operating at limited capacity.
Buy Gift Cards
Even if your favorite local business isn’t open yet, or maybe you aren’t quite ready to visit yet, support them with a gift card. You can buy gift cards for yourself to use when you are ready to go out and about, or you can buy them as gifts.
You can also purchase a small gift card for a friend just because and then encourage them to pay it forward by buying one for someone else, and then so on.
Buying gift cards or gift certificates can be more important to a small business than you even know during difficult times. It provides cash flow, and it helps businesses continue to pay their workers.
Shout Businesses Out on Social Media
While many businesses are starting to try and get back into the swing of things, people may have forgotten about them or they might not know if they’re open and operational. A good way to bring local businesses to the forefront of people’s minds is to give them a shout out on social media.
If you receive great service, you should also leave reviews on sites like Google. It serves as free word-of-mouth advertising for businesses when they likely really need it.
Rethink Your Next Amazon Prime Purchase
Most of us are conditioned to look at Amazon Prime for everything we need before we go to a local store for it. Rethink that. If you’re about to purchase something on Amazon, think about whether or not you can find it at a local store first. Investing your money in local businesses means you’re investing in your community.
Do Curbside Pickup
If the thought of going in a restaurant, salon or retail store isn’t quite right for you just yet, nearly all of these businesses are likely to be doing curbside options.
From restaurants, you may be able to buy not only meals but meal kits and even cocktails. A lot of salons and personal care businesses are offering curbside pickup of their products so you can keep up with your beauty routine.
Retailers are also doing curbside pickup, even if they’re in a city where they aren’t allowed to open yet, or might not be able to open at full capacity.
If you do eat in a restaurant or have a service done and it’s within your budget to do so, consider tipping extra. People who work at these businesses are struggling in many cases too.
See If You Can Get an Online Service
Many businesses throughout the coronavirus shutdowns have started to move to a new way of doing things. There are a lot of service-based businesses that are doing online consultations and working with clients online, even if they are reopening. This could include law and doctor’s offices, but also therapists or anyone providing consultation-style work.
Keep Your Memberships If You Can
It can be a tough time financially for everyone, but if you are working and able, try and keep your memberships to local businesses such as places where your kids take classes, or your local fitness or yoga studio.
Having a lot of cancellations at an already-challenging time could be a big burden for a small business.
If nothing else, maybe just ask if you can freeze your memberships or recurring payments until you are ready to return. This won’t provide cash flow to the business but it will give them the peace of mind of knowing they’re going to have clients when they’re able to return to normal.
Support Local Food
If local markets in your area are open, try to shop there for groceries instead of going to big box stores or chain grocers. Local markets also tend to buy local food products from farmers, so it’s a win-win in terms of supporting the community.
You can also visit local butcher shops and they may even have more of a selection than what you’ll find at big-name stores that have faced recent supply chain issues. Local farmers may benefit from you connecting with them directly to buy produce, meat, and other items.
Check In with Local Businesses
If you have friends or family members who have a small business locally, check in with them. See how they’re handling things, how they’re feeling, and where you can help. They may have ways you can help you wouldn’t even think of.
Having social support can help small business owners navigate this challenging time. If you know someone with a business, maybe you even volunteer your time to help them out as much as you can.
Everyone is dealing with serious issues right now and in particular business owners. There are problems with being able to open, and even when businesses can open they may not have reliable vendors, their supply chains may be disrupted and they may not be able to get their employees back.
While everyone’s feeling the stress, we should be patient with one another and make a concerted effort to support local and small businesses whenever possible, even when it may be more convenient to go elsewhere.