As we turn to online coffee dates, virtual work from home environments and strategically plan our grocery shopping, it can be easy to get lost in the headlines and forget that a thriving local community once existed in those same streets that are now empty today.
Although COVID-19 is impacting the world in ways that we never could have anticipated, the fact that local businesses are the backbone of our communities and the main drivers of a healthy economy in our neighborhoods still proudly stands true. However, without the usual droves of customers to cover business overheads such as rent, salaries and bills, our favorite local shops, services and restaurants face the risk of staying closed for good.
Whether your soul is eternally bound to your favorite local coffee shop or you miss the sweaty, rewarding chants of ‘Om’ together at the end of a community yoga class, here are our 6 best tips on how you can do your bit to support local businesses right now.
Dine “out” at home—order takeout or delivery
If your financial situation allows it, ordering takeout or delivery from your local restaurants, cafes and bars is a great way to have something to look forward to during the week, while also supporting your local gastronomy scene. Not only will you get to have a night off from playing chef, but you’ll also help keep your neighborhood’s food culture alive.
Always wanted to try out a popular spot? Now, you can bypass the long wait queues and comfortably build up your appetite in the comfort of your own home—even in your pajamas! With many restaurants opting to add new additions to their menus to make takeout even more appealing, you’re bound to find something that’ll suit both your wallet and your tastebuds.
Shop local—support your local farmers
If you’ve been stressed about shopping in crowded areas, consider turning to your local shops for your household and general supplies. With many businesses now set up for online orders or contactless delivery and pick-up, you can avoid the mess of crowds altogether. Not only will you help your local businesses to sell their existing inventory, but you’ll also create a positive flow-on effect by helping the shops to hold onto their relationships with local farmers and distributors.
Whether it’s coffee beans from your favorite coffee shop, or a box of seasonal produce from a co-op, your support now during these crucial times will help heighten the chance of these local businesses sticking around until the dust settles.
Treat yourself—buy gift cards as presents
Although social gatherings may have stopped for the time being, time itself never will. Within these upcoming weeks, you and your loved ones will still have birthdays, anniversaries, and other joyous occasions to celebrate. An extra-meaningful present for this year could be a gift certificate from a local business. Not only will you have a beautiful treat to look forward to, but you’ll share your joy with local businesses who’ll be thrilled to have your ongoing, loyal support.
Leave positive reviews—build up your community
Financial support isn’t all there is to helping local businesses—you can uplift an entire community by leaving great reviews online about services that you’ve used in the past.
Great reputations take years to build, and are often the result of immense personal effort. The few minutes that you take to write heartfelt and positive recommendations about the local champions who always make your day may be just what it takes to drive more customers to these vetted services. Not only will your kind words of well-deserved praise increase the business’ visibility, but it’ll also serve as a huge boost of moral support to the self-employed and small business owners who rely solely on themselves to hold up their main source of income.
Take virtual classes—support self-employed teachers
Many fitness studios, workout instructors and teachers of every kind are opting to turn homes into a sweaty yoga studio, an exhilarating dance class or even a language school by offering regular classes online. Virtual classes not only eliminate the age-old excuse about being too tired to turn up to a class, but also offer a real sense of solidarity and little pockets of community in these times of isolation. By signing up for ongoing classes, you’ll create a win-win situation by supporting local studios and self-employed teachers while also gaining a new impressive skill or two in the process.
Look out for each other—be a neighbor, not a customer
If you’re supporting local businesses, chances are, they’re probably your local neighbors too. Although you may only know each other within a business setting, local businesses are ultimately also run by people—people who are most likely riding the same rollercoaster of heightened emotions, just like yourself.
In these times of uncertainty when many things feel fragile, remember to extend a hand to local businesses as not just a customer, but as a caring neighbor as well. Look out for each other and offer to help where you can, like picking up items instead of asking for delivery, or co-ordinating with local stores to create care packages for the elderly or families in need.
There’s no doubt that communities are always stronger together, especially in times like these. By supporting your local businesses, not only will you help maintain your community’s overall livelihood, but you’ll also help ensure that your favorite local businesses will still be there when life resumes its normal course once again, ready to welcome you with open arms.
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