Contributed article in our business series. Enjoy! – Kimberly
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The novel coronavirus has disrupted the way we live, work and go on about our daily lives. Small and locally owned businesses have been hit especially hard throughout the pandemic, as shelter in place orders closed their doors for weeks to months.
During lockdown, it was all too easy to shop online with big retailers such as Amazon. But as our communities begin to reopen and adjust for the new normal, our mom and pop shops, women-owned businesses, local restaurants and service industry workers are in need of financial support.
The world looks different now than it did before. Streets have been transformed into car-free Streateries to encourage more outdoor dining, mask mandates have been issued across the country to help keep consumers and workers safe, and limited capacities have reduced the amount of people dining out and shopping in stores
Even if you don’t feel comfortable going out yet, you can still support small businesses in your community through a number of ways. Many of these small businesses have had to reshape their business models with few resources and less cash flow coming in to optimize their sales for online and contactless payments.
Here are some ways you can support small businesses both in person and at home:
- Purchase gift cards: Small businesses need cash flow right now, so even if you don’t feel comfortable dining out or shopping in store just yet, you can help out by purchasing gift cards to use for a later purchase. Stock up on holiday gifts early by purchasing gift cards for family and friends as well.
- Write an online review: Most of us have been financially impacted in some way by this pandemic. If you don’t have cash to give right now, know that you’re not alone – and there are still free ways to support local businesses. Compliments are free, so consider writing an online review for your favorite mom and pop shop. Use this opportunity to mention how the store is adapting to the current conditions and helping keep their customers safe.
- Promote openings on your social media: As stores begin to open their doors, you can help with marketing by sharing their statuses on social media. If you order food, snap a picture and tag the restaurant. This may encourage your family and friends to place an order as well.
- Ditch the cash: Opt for contactless payment methods such as a debit or credit card rather than cash when you’re out purchasing items. This helps protect workers from catching COVID-19 as cash exchanges can cause contamination.
- Monitor your symptoms: If you’re feeling sick, stay home. Taking responsibility for your health is one of the best ways to keep others safe and businesses open. Keep a thermometer at home and know what symptoms to look for.
- Register for online classes: Don’t knock it ‘til you try it! Many fitness and art studios have taken their classes online. Even if you don’t like the sound of a virtual yoga class, sign up to support your favorite instructor or try out a new hobby. You may find yourself enjoying it more than you’d think.
- Shop small business online: By now, most small businesses have transitioned to an online store format in some form. Resist the urge for 2-day Amazon delivery and purchase from a local shop owner instead. This is one of the best ways to stimulate your local economy.