How to Support Small Businesses During Quarantine

Chanoa Tarle

Senior Contributor

The temporary global shift in our economies due to the novel coronavirus requires a shift in our perspectives. Numerous locally-owned small businesses around the globe face a serious burden as doors must temporarily close or make a new, concerted effort to sell successfully online. As consumers, one of the best things we can do for our local communities is to continue to support our favourite businesses in whatever way we can. Here are five effective ways to support small businesses during the COVID-19 mass quarantine.

Remote Shopping

Non-essential businesses, often described as every physical place of business outside of medical care facilities, pharmacies and grocery stores, are closed on a mass scale. However, this doesn’t mean they cannot conduct business. Shop your favourite local fashion boutiques via Instagram or their online stores and continue supporting businesses such as restaurants by ordering delivery via your preferred apps or by calling the restaurants directly. Whenever you shop online, ask yourself if you could be buying that book from a local book store’s website instead, or if your groceries could come from a smaller supermarket instead of that larger chain store. After every in-person shopping session or e-commerce delivery, take all of the necessary precautions to sanitize food packages (ask the delivery person to leave the food at your doorstep). The same precautions apply to buying clothing, home goods and other products. For items that would be damaged by disinfecting products, put them securely aside to wait until they can no longer present a danger to you; wash hands thoroughly after storing your products. If a business hasn’t historically sold online or by phone, call or check their social media channels. Many small businesses have shifted to selling from afar in light of the crisis. 

Social Media

Of course, times are hard for some consumers too. If you’ve been laid off from work or otherwise negatively impacted by COVID-19, there are still ways to help. Support your choice of local businesses by following their social media accounts, liking their content and sharing posts promoting their ability to sell over the phone or online. We’re all in this together, and we hope our beloved community businesses will be able to operate just as they once did after the quarantines and lockdowns are over.

Gift Cards

If you’d prefer to shop or eat in-person, support small businesses today by shopping their gift cards. You’ll have fun plans and experiences to look forward to in the future while doing your part today to help local business owners with much-needed cash injections. Also think about your family, friends and employees. You may purchase gift cards as presents to share with them now or for upcoming birthdays, holidays and other occasions. While gift cards are excellent any time of the year, it’s important to note that many small businesses are hosting special discounts, free shipping and other initiatives while the world is under quarantine. A little research will determine whether it’s a better idea to shop now or buy a gift card to shop later.

Online Business Reviews

Online reviews are at the centre of everything from shopping for furniture online and choosing business partners to finding universities to attend and restaurants to visit. Support your most treasured local businesses by writing reviews if you’ve never done it before. It’s a no-cost, low-effort tactic that makes an impact. Visit their websites first to see if they have a reviews or testimonials section and consider leaving a review both there and in one other venue, such as Yelp. In some regions, Yelp is also a platform for ordering food for delivery. As such, leaving a review on their platform can lead to easy, direct sales. 

Bespoke Gestures

Finally, every neighbourhood and business requires a unique set of needs. Message local small businesses on social media and call personal contacts at these companies to learn their unique situations and the best ways you can help. For example, the famous fashion stylist to the stars, Karla Welch, promoted a treasured local café in her LA neighbourhood before the city’s mandatory lockdown. Welch shared an Instagram post informing her following that the café was still in operation with take-out guests and employees practising social distancing. The stylist also shared a personal tip- she would call the café’s owner to order her coffee, meet her the minute they opened (before other guests arrived), practice social distancing, pay with a credit or debit card to minimize contact and finally sanitize her coffee cup before heading home to enjoy it. The events industry provides another great example. The electronic music authority and event ticketing agency, Resident Advisor, recently shared an Instagram campaign, informing followers how to save the scene. They encouraged ticket holders in good financial standing to opt out of event refunds to help promoters, organizers and other nightlife and events staff during this time. In a time of restrictions and hardships, creativity and kindness are thrust into the spotlight.

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