Image courtesy of Patrick Tomasso
It’s safe to say that this is a strange time for all of us. With government restrictions and lockdowns increasing, many small local businesses have been forced to close their doors indefinitely for the greater good of public health and safety.
While practicing responsible social distancing and self-isolation, you might start to feel powerless when it comes to supporting your favorite local businesses. We’ve entered into uncharted territory, and it’s important to do our part in helping our mom-and-pop shops, comedy clubs, beloved restaurants, coffee shops, boutiques, bookstores, and more. These businesses are the backbone of our communities and our economy, and remember—these business owners are also moms, wives, sisters, and daughters that have family to support.
8 ways you can support local businesses during quarantine
1. Praise them on social media
Your support means more now than ever, so give your favorite business a shout-out on social media and follow more local businesses and artists. If they have a page on Google Reviews, Yelp, or TripAdvisor, rate them five stars and leave a comment. Once the madness subsides, your raving review will help business get back to booming.
2. Buy a gift card
The easiest way to help local businesses maintain some cash flow is to purchase a gift card. Since restrictions mean that fewer people (or none at all) are coming in the store to shop, business owners are struggling to pay rent and cover basic expenses with drastically reduced revenue. Buy a gift card and stash it away for the future or give it to a friend who is out of work themselves.
3. Shop local online
Many small businesses have been forced to get creative during this time. Restaurants are moving to take-out orders only, clothing shops are moving online, and local farmer’s markets are testing drive-throughs and online order forms. See if your favorite local businesses and retailers have set up shop online, and treat yourself to a shopping spree. Or, check artists' stores to purchase their work or merch. You’ll get a warm, cozy sweater for your new life indoors and your local retailer will get cash in their pockets—it’s a win win.
4. Tip generously
Many restaurant and retail employees and gig workers don’t have any protections right now—many are out of work and have no paid time off. If you’re able, consider leaving a super generous tip the next time you order food for delivery. If someone you know works at a local business that’s completely closed right now, follow DC’s lead with a virtual tip jar that lists the names and Venmo accounts of all the restaurant employees in the area.
5. Skip the refund
Say you bought two tickets to a comedy show at your local theater and it just got cancelled. Instead of calling and asking for a full refund, consider skipping the refund and treating it like a donation. With most shows and performances cancelled or postponed, local theaters and clubs and the performers who rely on them for gigs are really struggling right now.
6. Send a note
Never underestimate the power of a simple thank-you note. Whip out the flowery stationary you’ve had stashed away and mail a letter (or write an email) to your favorite local business thanking them for everything they do and ask how you can best support them in this time. If they don’t have any measures already set up, you could offer to set up a GoFundMe page or update their website for free.
7. Interact with live streams
You may have seen that some of the world’s largest and most revered museums like The Louvre and The Guggenheim are offering free virtual tours online. Now, some local arts businesses and artists are following their lead with live-streamed shows, concerts, and performances. Hop on your computer, crack some smiles and laughs, and support performers and artists online.
8. Sign up for the newsletter
If a local business has an email newsletter, sign up and keep an eye on their updates. When they update their hours, policies, and plan going forward, share the news on social media and with friends and family. Spreading their news will help support them in a huge way. And if they have to set up a fundraiser to keep the business going, you’ll be on the list to know.