Connect on social media
Reaching out to your favorite local shops and services through social media platforms can go a long way to drive optimism and boost morale. Even if you aren’t able to offer financial support, simply engaging online and providing words of encouragement can help ease the loneliness business owners are feeling as they adjust to not seeing their regular customers.
“You miss that community that you would normally have,” explains Rebekah Cook, owner of Forage Modern Workshop, a small Minneapolis business featuring home goods, furniture and work from independent artists and designers. “Whether you’re a store, a restaurant, or a coffee shop, you’re so used to connecting with your people all the time. Remembering to stay connected with [these businesses] online is a huge support. Plus, it also helps with [social media] algorithms.”
A lot of brick and mortar locations may not have had the time to focus on their social media and online presence before, and now it’s a lifeline for them. Connecting on social media will help those owners build their networks and bolster their brand during this time.
Many small businesses that were storefront-only have transitioned into online services as much as possible. Connecting with them on social media helps them to build out their new way of marketing and adjust their business model.
Purchase electronic gift cards
Buying electronic gift cards is another great way to invest in the future of your favorite small businesses. Whether you purchase one for yourself to use at a later date or send them to friends
or family, the gesture helps local companies maintain revenue so they can reopen their brick and mortar locations in the future.
“We do electronic gift cards online in any amount for when you’re ready to come back and go shopping,” says Stephanie Sauer, owner of Stephanie’s, a women’s clothing boutique in St. Paul, Minn.
Reach out to local businesses to find out whether they have this option available. Many shops have convenient transaction options that are compatible with different customer preferences. “If you’re not an online shopper, we can do it over the phone,” says Stephanie.
Some local stores are also shifting their business to online platforms for the time being. Stephanie’s shop already had e-commerce set up and is now also offering FaceTime appointments so customers can safely receive style recommendations while social distancing. “We have only had one [staff member] in the store at a time, and right now, it’s just to get deliveries out and check on inventory when it comes in,” says Stephanie.
Forage Modern Workshop is also working hard to shift over to the online space. “We’re doing everything we can to try to get our products online and shipping safely when it’s possible, and so going and shopping online helps. Because we support small makers, designers, and artists, we are also trying to think of new ways that we can promote them and help them sell what they make.”
Take some time to browse local shop websites and see what’s available on their sites. If you need to make a particular purchase online, find out whether a local business can fulfill the need and look into ordering the item directly from them instead of a big-box retailer.
Send a gift to a friend
Purchasing a gift from a small business to send to a friend is a great way to reach out and stay connected during social distancing while helping your community at the same time. “You can send someone a little something to brighten their day, because everyone’s kind of stuck of their houses, and that’s not fun. We have candles and jewelry online,” says Stephanie.
Think of family or friends who might be alone or going through an especially tough time and consider whether there’s a gift item you could send to raise their spirits. Forage Modern Workshop offers locally designed notes of encouragement send out to those you’re thinking of during this time.
Beyond your social circle, buying meals or treats from small businesses can be a way to show gratitude to workers on the frontlines of responding to this crisis. You can pay it forward and show your appreciation to the people who are keeping our communities safe, cared for and fed while also helping out a small business in the process.
Contribute to donation pages
Some businesses have also set up donation pages as a way to support their employees who are struggling financially due to COVID-19 and the lack of work it’s caused. “We were really hopeful that we could keep our staff on, but we quickly realized we had to lay off all of our staff,” explains Rebekah. “If you’re able to financially support the businesses, they can bring back as many of them as possible when they can reopen.”
Contributions to these types of funds are greatly appreciated, no matter how big or small the amount. Receiving donations gives owners hope that their local shops will be able to survive the current period of uncertainty, and eventually reopen and rehire staff who they may have had to lay off.
Keep checking in over time
As our communities and local economies evolve, it will be important to continue caring for local businesses as much as possible. “We just have to keep the momentum going, because it starts getting harder,” says Stephanie.
“As much as we need the financial support to be here on the other side of this, we also need the moral support, because it’s so hard to stay motivated,” adds Rebekah. As time goes by, keep offering encouragement, support and making purchases to help out your local businesses as you are able – these meaningful gestures will help sustain businesses and create hope for a brighter future.
MORE TIPS – YES, THERE MIGHT BE DUPLICATES – BUT THESE TIPS ALL CAME FROM DIFFERENT SOURCES – MUST BE THE RIGHT IDEA – Ails
1) Buy gift cards: As Jonathan Alward, director of provincial affairs at CFIB, explains, this could help a retailer or other small business stay alive and keep their staff working and paid as well.
2) Make a reservation—and keep appointments: Consider booking a dinner at a local restaurant for a few months down the road, says Kelly. You can also pay for cancelled appointments with hairdressers, cleaners and so on.
3) Ask how you can help: Lending a hand to a small operator who is already grappling with the financial fallout of a closure or semi-closure can make a big difference.
4) Buy now, pick up later: If you were planning to buy a manufactured product such as an electronic device or book, call to see if you can pay for it now and pick it up at a later date, suggests the Burlington Chamber of Commerce.
5) Keep an earlier order: Kelly says he heard “a great example about a bar mitzvah that was cancelled, and the family that had booked the caterer still took delivery of all the food and then had it delivered to all of their friends.”
6) Get takeout: Many local restaurants that didn’t have takeout and delivery now offer those options—and some patrons are stepping up. “They need [us] to survive. I really want to help them,” explained one customer who picked up lunch at the downtown location of Edmonton’s Filistix. “I love this place.”
7) Consider other products for takeout or delivery: For example, Windsor’s Wagner Orchards & Estate Winery delivers not only wine but pies and other products. Other companies sell frozen meals, preserves, etc. that can be stored in your freezer.
8) Take credit, not a refund: As Adriano Ciotoli of WindsorEats points out, “If you’ve purchased tickets for an event, consider taking a credit instead of a refund while businesses work to put a solid plan in place.”
9) Pay with plastic: Bypass cash payment with debit or credit cards—and use the contactless “tap” feature whenever possible. – do this for sure
10) Share small business posts: This will help small businesses stay connected and maintain their visibility, even if have had to shut down temporarily.
11) Buy or renew a membership: If you have a subscription or a membership to a local business that provides a service (gyms/fitness studios, dance lessons, and so on), don’t cancel it because you aren’t attending at the moment, says Ciotoli. “Many businesses depend on that support to keep their doors open and pay their employees.”
12) Subscribe to news publications: Some news organizations are lifting paywalls on content to make sure the public gets access to information about what is happening. As one article puts it, “By subscribing even to just one newspaper or media outlet that you trust, you can help support these people.”
13) Take online lessons: As jazz singer Beverly Taft points out, musicians such as guitarist Nathan Hiltz offer online lessons as well as concerts, and some have merchandise and recordings for purchase.
14) Donate to food banks: Food Banks Canada has made a special $150 million donation request as a direct result of COVID-19. Consider making a donation yourself.
We Got This! Share your thoughts, ideas, inspiration and your business – There’s enough out there for all of us!!!!!