Many small business owners experience periods of uncertainty. Financial difficulties, employee turnover and competition all create situations of stress and doubt. Add in a global pandemic (COVID-19) and small businesses will feel that the world is changing faster than they can keep up. It’s only been a few days since the lives of many have been upended by a global state of emergency, school closures, and enforced changes to our everyday lives – but locally owned, small businesses are already taking a huge hit.
Temporary layoffs are already affecting residents, several small businesses have canceled events and classes, local daycares, cleaning services, transportation services (just to name a few) are feeling the pinch as residents start to telecommute and small business are seeing fewer customers as a result. While there isn’t a whole lot we can do as restrictions are put in place, the good news is there are still plenty of measures we can take to support our favourite local businesses during these unsettling times.
Here are nine things you do can right now to support your local small business community:
1. Order Takeout or Delivery
Your favourite restaurants may have had to shut their doors, but many of them still offer takeout or delivery. Take the night off from cooking and order in. Many independently owned restaurants offer their own delivery services or other delivery platforms such as SkipTheDishes or Uber Eats. Not only does that keep the business going, but it also provides income for delivery drivers. Most services have sent information to customers and drivers to help ensure safe and in some cases, contact-less deliveries.
There’s also been an effort from the food industry to increase take-out options. You may not be able to sit in, but you can still grab your usual coffee order from Brewed Awakening (Regina) in the morning or a fresh donut from Darkside Donuts(Saskatoon).
2. Buy Gift Cards
Even if you aren’t buying anything else because you’re stuck at home, you can give your local shops or favourite restaurant a vote of confidence by spending even $25 on a gift card to use later, when life returns to normal. Plus, most businesses offer online gift card options so you can stay in the comfort of your home while supporting local.
3. Shop Local Businesses Online & Offline
This may seem obvious, but we thought it should be mentioned. Many local businesses have online stores in addition to their brick-and-mortar locations. Whenever possible, consider giving them your business. The delivery option applies here as well, with grocery stores in many locations offering this service. Places like Body Fuel Organics and Local and Fresh in Regina are still serving the community through the crisis and can deliver goods to your home, and some, free of charge.
4. Write A Google Review
Google reviews can give businesses a big credibility boost without having to spend a dime. While most of us are most likely laying low at home, browsing our phones or tuning into the news… take a quick break, search your favourite business(es) and consider writing them a positive review. It’s no cost to you but a huge benefit to them!
5. Use Credit or Debit Cards
When you do go shopping, use a credit or debit card instead of cash. Paper money and coins pass through so many hands and carry all types of germs. Limiting the amount of cash you use can help limit the spread of those germs, which is especially important right now.
6. Tip If You Have the Opportunity
Whenever you use a delivery service or if you’re able to go out and support local businesses, consider being a little extra generous if you can. It may not directly contribute to the bottom line, but it helps the wait staff and delivery people since many are working on reduced hours and limited shifts. Be a kind human – a little extra positivity can really bring a community together!
7. Support Local in Grocery Stores
It appears some of the only places open right now are grocery stores. Want to know a little secret? You’ll find that in most grocery stores, there are hidden home-grown gems supplied by local businesses. From fresh garden vegetables and homemade Italian pasta, to salsas, salad dressings, soup mixes, you name it – seek and you shall find! Although you may pay a few bucks more, know you are supporting your local economy in ways you may have never known. We can guarantee you they are more thankful than ever during this time of crisis.
8. Be Patient
In many cases, businesses are working at a dramatically reduced capacity. There’s a good chance that you’ll experience longer waits or encounter out-of-stock items. Trust me, every business is feeling that pain. They want nothing more than to be able to meet your needs. When they can’t, extend a little grace and patience, remembering that they’re working hard to stay open and serve their community, and many factors may be beyond their control.
9. Say Thank You
When you do go to the grocery store to buy what you need be sure to say thanks to the employees who are hard at work stocking shelves. It can be easy to forget that many of those employees are working overtime to keep their store clean and full of the food and supplies customers need. A simple thank you can go a long way to spreading a little gratitude and goodwill. Which, as opposed to spreading germs, is something we could all use a little more of right now.
Supporting local business has always been important. These businesses are part of our community. They are the ones who sponsor our children’s hockey teams, provide door prizes for our golf tournaments and donate food for charitable fundraisers. In this time of uncertainty, one thing is for sure – the sun will come out and the weather will get warmer. Summer is on the horizon… yay – fresh air! But now is the time, more than ever, to come together as a strong community. Supporting local businesses supports us all.
Feel free to share or repost this blog to let others know how we can all support one another! #ShopLocal #BetterTogether #stayhomeCanada #COVID19
-Teal Rybchuk and Ashley Herchak are Product Consultants at Directwest