Local businesses need your support during COVID-19. Here’s how.
(Information courtesy of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. For more tips, go to https://ilsr.org/covid-19-how-you-can-help-save-our-locally-owned-businesses.)
The pandemic has created an existential crisis for America’s locally-owned businesses, which are the backbone of the nation’s economy. They create the bulk of the nation’s jobs, cultivate new innovation, and shape our communities’ personalities. Unlike most national retail chains, they adapt their products and services to meet their communities’ needs. A much higher percentage of the dollars spent in locally owned businesses remain in the community, generating economic activity that supports schools, parks, first responders, and other vital community services.
Governments, foundations, and nonprofits everywhere are scrambling to help small businesses stay afloat during this crisis, but everyone can help. Here are some things you can do.
Keep shopping (safely)
Buy from local, independently owned businesses. You can help the small businesses you love stay in business by buying their products and services. In fact, many small businesses are operating online and by phone now. And buying local means you’re not only supporting community businesses, but you will get your products faster than if you ordered them from an online megastore. So give them a call!
Buy gift cards. You can use them once the business reopens. In the meantime, you’re providing the business with income it needs to stay afloat.
Buy something extra. While you’re buying a gift card, maybe get one as a birthday gift for a friend as well.
Order carry-out. Restaurants have moved quickly to make it easier for customers to order carry-out food and either pick it up curbside or have it delivered. Lots of other small businesses are also offering curbside pickup.
Be flexible. Many small businesses are trying out new ways to meet their customers’ needs and keep themselves solvent. Whether it’s an online class offered by your favorite yoga studio or phone video concierge shopping in your favorite bookshop, give them a try.
Leave a review. This is a great time to leave positive reviews of your favorite local businesses on Yelp, Google, Facebook, and other social media. Not only can it help drive traffic to these businesses, but the business owners and workers would probably appreciate the emotional support right now.
Many retail and restaurant workers live paycheck to paycheck. Being out of work for even just a week or two can put them in grave financial danger.
Tip better than you usually do. If you are patronizing a service-sector business whose workers rely on tips, leave a bigger tip than usual.
Contribute to charities and community foundations that support workers. Industry associations have quickly rallied to help workers struggling to make ends meet during this crisis.
Encourage your local community foundation or community service organization to provide emergency assistance to displaced workers. If your town has a community foundation, call or email to suggest that they set up an emergency fund for workers sidelined by the coronavirus pandemic. Community service organizations such as the Rotary Club, Lion’s Club, or Kiwanis and faith-based organizations may also be able to help.