APR. 9, 2020
Although COVID-19 has been a difficult obstacle for everyone, local businesses in particular are taking a big hit. With government mandates to close non-essential businesses, many local stores are placed on pause at the expense of their survival.
This sad reality looms over our heads: If the pandemic persists, many of our beloved local businesses may shut their doors for good. Fortunately, there are ways you can help your local business stay afloat during these uncertain times.
Buy Gift Cards
You may not need to purchase non-essential items today, but you may once the pandemic blows over. To help your local business keep its lights on, consider buying gift cards to use for later. There’s bound to be a special occasion, birthday, holiday, or celebration that demands the purchase of gifts. Since gift cards don’t expire (don’t forget to double check, just in case), you can keep them for as long as you need until they’re ready for use.
If you haven’t panic-bought all of the dry goods and kitchen essentials at the grocery store during the height of this pandemic, you should consider ordering from your favorite local restaurant, many of which are still open. Although restaurants temporarily don’t offer the dine-in experience, you can still order takeout. If you don’t feel comfortable leaving your home, have the meal delivered to your door through delivery apps such as GrubHub or Postmates. And please, tip the delivery person generously.
Spread the Word
Word-of-mouth is one of the best ways to promote your favorite local business. If you’re aware of a store that is still open to the public, let your neighbors, friends, or family know. Social media has made it even easier to disseminate information to the masses, so use your social accounts for this purpose. In fact, you can use the “check in” feature on Facebook to promote a local business on your Timeline or the location tag on Instagram to promote on Stories. You can also watch out for “recommendation” posts from friends, putting a good word in for a local business.
Purchase from Local Stores
Sure, you may choose to go to your nearby Ralphs or Target for household and kitchen items, but if a local store offers the same products, purchase from the latter, not the former. Everyone has been negatively affected by COVID-19, but a large chain is better equipped to survive the pandemic than a mom-and-pop shop in your neighborhood. Shop locally and help a small business in need.
Buy Branded Merchandise
Some businesses sell branded merchandise on top of the services they offer. You’ve seen it before: a local Tiki bar selling t-shirts and hats bearing the business logo. A local cafe selling mugs, notebooks, and tote bags. Purchasing your local businesses’ merchandise can add a little extra cash at a time when they need it the most. Sure, you may not be a coffee drinker, but you can never have too many mugs in your cupboard.
Buy Local Produce
You may be surprised to see that farmers markets are still in operation. Considered essential businesses (many rely on farmers markets to purchase their food), they remain open for customers seeking to fill their kitchens. Rather than going to a chain grocery store, shop at your local farmers market for fresh produce. Since these markets are out in the open, there’s no population control to maintain the six-feet rule the CDC recommends. (The CDC recommends staying six feet away from strangers.) For this reason, wear a mask, as the CDC requires, on your trip there and keep your distance from other shoppers.
Stock Up on Entertainment
With people ordered to stay at home to stop the spread of COVID-19, it becomes important to stock up on entertainment. Sure, you may have subscriptions to Hulu, Netflix, and HBO, but you can only binge-watch so many movies before they become tiresome. Consider purchasing entertainment from your local business, whether that’s from a used bookstore or a video game shop. If that store is not open, visit its website in case you can order online.
You may not be allowed to leave your home, but no one is stopping you from buying online. If your favorite local store has an e-commerce website, do your shopping online. Not only are you protecting yourself and others from contracting COVID-19, but you are also helping a local business stay afloat.
You’ve ignored that tip jar long enough. At a time like this, not only are small businesses in danger but so are their employees, especially when they rely on tips. The next time you pick up takeout at your local restaurant, don’t neglect the tip jar. The same goes for delivery workers. Tipping more than you usually would is a great way to say thanks to the people risking their health to bring your favorite dishes to your doorstep.
You may no longer be going to the gym during this time of social distancing, but your membership can help keep local businesses afloat at a time when they’re no longer receiving foot traffic. If you’re financially able, don’t cancel your membership.
By Anne Felicitas