7 Ways to Support Local Businesses During the Coronavirus Pandemic

The COVIC-19 pandemic hit our communities slowly, then suddenly. One day in early March, my partner and I ventured to a local Chinese restaurant to help them stay afloat, after racist fear emptied their dining room. The following week, we visited a local fish spot on the street, thinking their tables were far enough apart to adhere to the new rules of social distancing. A few days after that, our neighborhood closed completely, the doors slamming one after the other like terrified dominoes. Some companies have glued sheets of paper to their closed windows: Closed for a pandemic. See you soon. Others just got dark. And our streets have not felt the same since.

Since then, parts of our country have temporarily started to reopen. Others will follow, in a cautious tango with a new reality that we still do not fully understand. But one thing is irrefutable: our local businesses need our help to stay alive, if we want our communities to look like what they were scary a few months ago. “Due to the fragility of the small business community, we have found that most have 27 days of emergency cash,” said Vice President of Small Business of the United States Chamber of Commerce, Tom Sullivan. That’s enough to get them through the first pay period. But even with federal and local relief efforts, we have long since passed the point where our neighbors need us. Here’s what you can do to help yourself, wherever you are.

Local shop … online

In the past few months, my days have felt much more empty without saying hello to the owner of the cafe down the street, exchanging jokes with the guy who sells fruit around the corner, or laughing at the antics of the cat running the gift shop. on my way to work. And I’m sure they feel the same way – because the community goes both ways. (Well, maybe not the cat). If you also miss these interactions, go online to support them. Many local stores have an e-commerce presence, or have started offering ways to support them with a single click.

“For small businesses, it is much more than a financial investment. It is a sign that you are there for them, that you care about them and that you believe that they have a future and that they will survive, “said New York State Lieutenant Governor Kathy. Hochul. “And it’s not just faceless entities. They are real people behind these stores.”

Take a gift card

If you don’t need anything now, consider purchasing a gift card for future navigation. Many small stores missed vital income around Easter, Passover, Mother’s Day and graduation ceremonies. “Many local retailers live and die during the holidays,” says Hochul. “They missed this income for the rest of the year.” Now is the time to treat yourself – to the community.

The same goes for local restaurants, delicatessens and bakeries. Even if they are not currently open, it is worth checking their websites or social networks to see if they offer gift cards. Even those who have not done so in the past can look for creative ways to stay afloat without putting their employees at risk.

Pay in advance

If you have room in your bank account, pay in advance for the goods or activities that you use regularly, even if you are not using them at the moment. Think of cleaning services, karate or dance lessons, even landscape and gardening. Even if you don’t live in an area where it is safe to bring home cleaners or babysitters to work, consider paying them anyway.

While many of us think of mom-and-pop stores with a bell on the door when we think of small businesses, the activities and amenities that make our lives so much richer also work on thin margins. And they need us now if we want them to be there later. Paying early may not break your budget, but it can make a huge difference to theirs. It is also vital for our country as a whole. “Frankly, any money in the economy right now is worthwhile,” says Sullivan.

Consider curbside pickup or delivery

Some restaurants and bars that did not offer take-out before have started to do so, to keep their employees and businesses afloat. Scientists have found that ordering in restaurants is very low-risk, so it’s time to get out of the menus and start composing. If you can, order directly at the restaurant so they don’t have to pay expensive cuts to third-party delivery services. Ordering takeout not only helps our lives feel a little more normal – it helps get America back to work.

As Sullivan explains, 2/3 of the jobs in our country come from small businesses. “So when you talk about why people end up on the fringes of the job market and put bread on their table, historically, it comes from small businesses,” he said. “There is a very real economic reason for supporting small businesses. There is an exciting and terrifying phenomenon at the same time: that is where the jobs must come from. If we do not have them, then we have real trouble. “

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Run your own small business on Saturday

Hit the AC and think back to Saturday after Thanksgiving, when we all hit the local gift shops and stocked up for the holidays. Sullivan suggests doing the same this weekend – but from the comfort of your couch. “It’s one of the most interesting things that it almost became a holiday, people open their wallets and their wallets and work to find this local store or this local artist,” he said. “Certainly, it is more difficult by far. But there is not really much difference.”

Start by researching your go-to online. Additionally, sites like Locally can help you find nearby stores for the products you typically order, and places like Etsy and LivebyLocal can connect you with artisans for the perfect gift.

Offer another support

No matter where you live, small businesses are the fabric of our communities. These are the places you ask to sponsor the team of the Little League, to make a donation to the school fundraiser, to give some dishes to the potluck meal of the community. Without them, our world will look so much less like home. So if you are not able to buy right now, stay in touch. Your neighbors also need a boost in morale.

“If you can’t buy now, just send a card with a personalized note to say you’re thinking about it,” suggests Hochul. “If someone is trying to decide whether to close their doors forever or start again, it can really make a difference.”

And if you or your loved ones are small business owners who need a little help, help is there. The United States Small Business Administration has several pandemic-specific relief funds. Individuals and organizations have stepped up their efforts to create charitable initiatives for each other. Consider the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund or the Opportunity Fund, which seeks to raise funds to help small businesses, especially those run by people of color, women and immigrants.

Spread love

While it takes a little longer to find independent retailers, following your favorites on social media is one way to stay connected remotely. Many of them share special offers, initiatives and new ways to help, including creative endeavors like Zoom performances of comedy troupes and online bar anecdotes, to name a few .

And while getting a shout online after Gramming a slice from your local (guilty) slice joint doesn’t quite look like a handshake from your favorite bartender, it’s something. Consider sharing the stories of your beloved spots in the easiest way to give back to the people who make up the fabric of our lives.

“The small businesses that the community goes to when they need something,” says Hochul. “And now they need something from us.”

Lizz Schumer is an editor for Good Housekeeping, Woman’s Day and Prevention, covering pets, culture, lifestyle, books and entertainment.

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