We’re in the depths of uncertainty. It feels scary and surreal for many, especially feeling out of control from what is to come. To counter that, I have been trying to focus my efforts on the things I can control — my actions, who I chat with, what content I consume and how I spend my time and money.
You likely already know that small businesses are taking a huge hit during this global COVID-19 pandemic. As a freelancer and previous small business owner, many of my friends and those I surround myself with are small business owners. From my experiences and theirs, I wanted to share some thoughts on how to best support local businesses in the challenging times we are in — with insight from small business owners themselves.
Shop small and local for as many things as possible
First things first, if you need or want to buy something, aim to buy it from a small and/or local shop. Instead of heading online to Amazon to buy a book, buy it from your local book store — they might also be able to ship it to you. If you need to buy some Tylenol, opt for the local drug store over the big chain stores. And if you want to buy snacks, gifts or otherwise, look up small businesses in your community and beyond that, you can order from. Of course, your coffee might have to be to go or grab a bag of coffee beans from your favorite shop.
“If you have been waiting to try a product from a small company, now is the time to do it! Shopping small is more essential than ever during these uncertain times. We encourage everyone to go to their local coffee shop for their morning coffee, stop by their mom and pop grocers to grab your produce, and just support your local small businesses. They are the ones who will feel that support the most right now.” — Roxanne Golkar and Bradley Reitler, co-owners of Meet The Source
Spread the word
Many of us are in financial uncertainty or experiencing job loss or reductions at the moment, and don’t have the extra change to spare. In that case, your impact can be just as profound by spreading the word about small businesses you know and love.
“We have found that word of mouth makes a huge difference. Supporting a small business can look like attending and spreading the word of virtual offerings — for example, with Roots Healing, we have shifted to live virtual yoga classes, so joining a class or spreading the word of the class would be a huge support.” — Minerva Arias, founder of Roots Healing.
This can mean emailing family members or friends about interesting workshops or sharing products that you love, or reposting a brand’s social media posts and sharing why you love and support them. “Support small businesses by amplifying their messages. Share! Share! Share! Every post could help introduce the company to new people,” emphasized Amy Zitelman, co-founder and CEO of Soom Foods.
Collaborate with small brands
“Another way to support a small business is with potential collaborations, if you work at a company that is still operating, especially with the creatives who bring joy to our lives. For example, bring on your favorite yoga teacher to teach yoga and meditation to your staff, or collaborate with your favorite DJ to host a Friday afternoon “happy hour” for your staff, the possibilities are endless really!” shared Arias. Whether it’s bringing a yoga class to your company or getting your friend group together virtually to take a class together, there’s power in numbers and leveraging the communities you have to keep small businesses growing.
Share a gift with a friend from a distance
Even though you can’t be with your friends and family in person, you can send them a gift from a small business to send some joy their way. That way your loved one gets a nice treat, and you are supporting a small business.
“Bird + Stone is raising money for three COVID-19 community relief funds that rapidly deploy funds to those on the front lines to those who need it most (the homeless, low-income students, gig workers, etc). Each Choose Kindness cuffs gives an additional 10% to communities at the center of the crisis — NY, Seattle, and LA. Gift a cuff to a friend and spread kindness to them while supporting our business and our give-back model.” — Elana Reinholtz, founder and CEO of Bird + Stone.
You can also gift your loved one a gift card to your favorite place to grab lunch or coffee together to enjoy once the “stay at home” orders have been lifted, or a gift card to an online small business so they can shop for something that resonates.
Order takeout from local restaurants
If it’s accessible to you, ordering takeout from your favorite local restaurants can help them stay in business and keep their staff employed. And let’s face it, cooking every meal at home gets exhausting! Ordering in allows you to support local restaurants and take the load off at home. Win-win.
Show some love to your favorite local businesses
You don’t have to buy from a business to support them right now. Simply checking in via social media or shooting an email to small brands you know and love telling them you’re thinking about them can go a long way! You can also make sure you are following them on Instagram and on their newsletters to keep up with what’s going on in their business, and how things are evolving for them. “sign up for our email list to stay up to date on our upcoming partnership with a Brooklyn-based food pantry and community organization. We’ll be donating 5% of profits and one item for every order of our newest product launch,” shared Sarah Ribner, co-founder and CEO of PiperWai. Another free and fast option that goes a long way: liking and commenting on their Instagram posts so they feel your love and support.