The COVID-19 pandemic has affected jobs and livelihoods across the country, and it has hit small, local businesses especially hard. These are the businesses communities rely on for their favorite meals, their comfiest clothes, hard-to-find hair products, and much more. These local companies are now struggling to find the support they need to not only survive through this tough time but also to come back from it at all. If you're wondering how to support local businesses, here are a few ways you can help your favorite stores stay afloat:
1. Buy gift cards.
Whether it’s for services you can use later or a dinner you can buy now, the sale of gift cards offers immediate cash businesses can use to pay for rent, employee salaries, or to feed their loved ones. Share these gift cards with friends and family or pay it forward by gifting to teachers, essential workers, frontline workers, or anyone else you think might need a helping hand.
2. Donate a skill.
A lot of small, local businesses don’t have attorneys, accountants, or a marketing team on staff, but these services can surely help them right now. Legal advice, tax and loan clarification, and marketing and advertising efforts will go a long way to help a struggling business survive the pandemic.
Check out "9 Ways to Volunteer from Home" for other ideas on how you can help.
3. Shop online.
You may not know that your local clothing boutique has an online presence because, well, you’ve always been able to walk in and shop. Now is the time to check out their online store and buy your favorite products. Make sure to look for a return policy or call and ask, as returns might be handled differently during this time. Shop what you can, and buy knowing that your purchase matters more now than ever before.
4. Share on social.
Be sure to call out your favorite restaurants, stores, and salons on all your social channels. If you’re part of any neighborhood groups online, promote local businesses there, too. Share your favorite dish from a restaurant or your favorite hairdresser at your salon, and encourage people to try them out. Also, now is an excellent time to give them a positive review online.
5. Schedule an appointment.
For some, it’s still tough to know when they’ll start seeing customers again, but making a reservation or scheduling an appointment for a later date is a great way to show them that you’re here for them. It’s also better to postpone an appointment than cancel. When the timing is right for you and the business, you can enjoy your time there comfortably.
6. Tip extra.
If you’re ordering takeout or having something delivered, tipping a little more than you usually do will help more than you know. Restaurant and delivery workers rely heavily on tips, so any profit will help sustain them during a time when business is slow.
7. Buy direct.
Before ordering through a food delivery app, look to see if the local restaurants that don’t typically deliver are making any exceptions during this time. Also, think twice before shopping from big online marketplaces. Check your local retailer’s website or call the small, local grocery store to find locally sourced soaps, foods, and other essentials.
Some farmer’s markets have a website or social media presence. Search online to get a list of vendors and buying options. You’d be surprised at how many markets and vendors are offering delivery, curbside pickup, and extended hours. Outdoor markets may still be open, so going early in the morning will help you avoid the crowds.
While many local businesses are struggling, there’s a lot you can do to help. However big or small your contribution, know that you’re making a difference in someone’s life—and your entire community.
What resources are there to support small businesses?
The U.S. Small Business Administration has several free resources to support owners of small and local businesses. The SBA offers tips, tools, and business counseling for entrepreneurs in the United States.
Why is it important to support local businesses?
It’s important to support local businesses because spending money at your favorite local boutiques and stores stimulates the local economy and promotes growth in the area.
Why is it important for small businesses to support the community?
Just as nearby neighbors support their local small businesses, it’s just as important for small businesses to support the community. When you support the community through sponsorships and more, you're taking an active role in the community and fostering a sense of unity.
How do I find local businesses near me?
Simply search “support local businesses near me” or “small businesses near me” in your favorite search engine, like Google, to find off-the-beaten-path stores and companies that could use your help.