COVID-19 has made a large impact on all of us. As individuals, families, communities, and as one global population, we are all feeling the effects in many ways. We feel it personally, professionally, physically, emotionally, psychologically and financially. We can’t tackle everything all at once but we can take small steps in an effort to support each other through this challenging time.
One area that has been most vulnerable to the effects of this disease is local business. Many stores have been forced to close, limit hours, restructure their business and furlough or layoff employees. Our local restaurants and shops rely on their monthly revenues to cover their operating costs and to provide income for the owners and their employees. Small businesses are also the backbone of our communities so it’s important we do our part to continue supporting them as much as we can. Here are a few creative ways that we can each support our local businesses during this unfortunate crisis until we’re all on the other side of it.
CONTINUE BEING A CUSTOMER | This might be the most obvious, but we know that individuals and families have been affected financially as well. Many are without jobs themselves, or their salaries have been cut. If you can afford to, it helps to continue buying from your local shops and ordering their food for take-out.
“We are a family-owned and operated business. The support we have been getting from the local community has been wonderful. We have had to modify our business model and now deliver as well as do curbside pickup. As long as the community continues to support us, it gives us a better chance to stay open.”
BUY GIFT CARDS | This is a great way for you to help with monthly sales and revenue. You can buy gift cards to use in the future for yourself or you can gift to friends.
SHOP BRICK + MORTAR ONLINE | Many shops have transformed their businesses and created online shops so that we can continue to shop their retail from our computers and phones. This is no easy task for a small business owner and it likely took a lot of time, effort and money to make this happen. Show them your support by shopping for items online. We’re seeing that Amazon and big box retailers are quickly getting bogged down and shipping times are becoming longer and longer so why not support your local business AND get your items faster?
“Our goal has always been to provide the Westchester community with healthy and delicious options, now more than ever. By offering bulk delivery we hope to help our customers in a variety of ways: to stay safe at home and not feel the need to go to a grocery store or wait in line; to maintain a sense of normalcy, even if that is as simple as having a fresh green juice for their morning routine; and to hopefully help reduce stress by providing ready to eat, healthy meals for the whole family with no prep or cooking involved.”
BOOK FUTURE EVENTS NOW | Planning an event in the fall? Looking to do a family photo shoot when this is all over? This helps business owners tremendously.
“As a freelance photographer, I am so grateful when people plan ahead and book their summer or fall family portrait session or headshots. The small deposits can help in keeping up with fixed expenses such as rent, insurance and software subscriptions that are still coming during this time of uncertainty. Most photographers also offer gift certificates, which can be a great gift for new mothers, grandparents or even a new family moving in to town.
SUPPORT THEM ON SOCIAL MEDIA | Follow them on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter + Pinterest. Do a shout out to them on your own feed or in your stories – make sure to tag! Like/Comment on their posts. Engagement will help them get more reach within the community.
“If they are not looking to spend money, then anything that they could do from liking a post or sharing a post on Instagram would be helpful. Reviews are always super helpful. Many of the people in this area do not know what exactly I do so something that would be really helpful would be a response to one of our Instagram posts showing interest in stopping by the studio when the quarantine has been lifted.”
WRITE REVIEWS ON YELP, GRUBHUB, GOOGLE, ETC. | I’m personally a big fan of reviews. I like writing them and I like reading them. I rarely try somewhere new without checking out their reviews. Use this idle time to show your local businesses how much you love their products and services. If nothing else I’m sure it will lift their spirits to see the positive reviews.
“I think social media posts, follows, and google reviews are a great way the community can support us during these times.”
“I think that during this uncertain time, the best thing our clients can do is to be patient and spread positive messages about Swim Tank. In typical times, we often forget to write a positive review on social media, or to thank those who have positively impacted our children’s lives. We often take time to complain or write about negative experiences, but we forget to appreciate and publicize the good. I think, now more than ever, if people can post positive experiences about the small businesses in their community that mean something to them, it will help us all to rebuild when we start to come out of this.”
VISIT THEIR WEBSITE FREQUENTLY FOR UPDATES | Just because a business is physically closed doesn’t mean they aren’t continuing to offer products and services. Many businesses are providing new and limited offerings that are updated regularly on their websites. More traffic to their website will also help boost their online presence.
“As a salon owner, I knew my current and future clients would be looking for hair help. I know many people are in need of color services, so I decided to get creative with at home color kits! Whether it’s grey coverage, or tone and shine you’re looking for, we can make something custom for you! (just a photo or FaceTime call away!)”
“Now more than ever we need to connect, to be part of an online community! At Order Out Of Chaos, we believe your parenting journey should never be taken alone. Our mission is to help parents guide their students to success in learning and in life — mainstream or with learning differences! Our community is robust and supportive! We are fortunate right now to be offering our workshops and webinars for FREE as well as have oodles of resources on our ever changing website.”
TRY SOMETHING NEW | Local businesses can benefit from new customers. It means that they can look forward to a larger client base when things go back to normal. Did you want to try a new gym/workout class or a new activity for your child but you were hesitant to commit to it? Sometimes we hold back from trying new things because we don’t want to be tied to a contract or we aren’t sure if our child will enjoy the activity (after paying for a full 6 week session!). This is a great opportunity to dabble in the offerings of our community. Many are offering pay-per-class live streaming and to-go kits for kids’ activities.
DONATE TO EMPLOYEE FUNDS | Sadly, many business owners have had to make the difficult decision to layoff some or all of their staff to cut their costs. To help support the affected employees, several owners have setup GoFundMe Relief Funds with 100% of proceeds being distributed among their staff.
CONTACT THEM DIRECTLY TO SEE HOW YOU CAN HELP | Not sure what would be the most helpful way to support your favorite local businesses? Just ask! Every business is different and although they’ll appreciate any support you can give them, I’m sure they all have different areas that would benefit them more than others.
“This is a truly unique time in our world. We go to bed praying for a cure and wake up feeling thankful that we are one of the fortunate ones right now to be healthy. With that, we are trying our best to continue to serve our customers with the greatest care and concern in mind. We are so grateful to our customers who have been continuing to call in orders to keep us going and to the Yonkers Fire Department for their gift card purchase program! In an effort to continue to serve our community, we definitely could use continued support. Continuing to place orders, buying gift cards, writing positive reviews on yelp and GrubHub, promoting us on Instagram and buying catering packages to donate to first responders are just a few of the ways that a customer could help to sustain us. We love our community and the people in it and want nothing more than to see us all return back to a healthy, happy and safe state.”