As governors and other officials issue executive orders that limit people’s ability to operate their businesses, money and resources have become tighter. Staying home has been especially challenging for small business owners. Big box stores remain open while independent retailers with unique characteristics are closing their doors. It’s a sad time with many changes and adjustments for everyone. But, what can you do to help your local businesses hang on through these tough times?
Check Local Shops First
When sending holiday gifts to your loved ones across the country, Amazon doesn’t have to be your first choice. Check with your local shops and see if they can arrange to ship your items directly to the recipient the way Amazon does. Even the big online stores have experienced supply chain disruption, so a local business might actually outperform their shipping times.
Don’t assume that Amazon’s shipping promises always hold up, because sometimes, they don’t. See if you can avoid the post office trips of sending packages yourself, while still supporting local businesses in your area. For a better chance of your gift arriving on time, remember to start shopping early!
And of course, favorite local shops are a great first choice for stocking your household with everyday necessities. When buying gifts for those who live with you, local stores are the logical holiday shopping choice.
Check for Local Businesses with Online Stores
Big retailers aren’t the only businesses who can sell online. Many local businesses have dedicated e-commerce websites as well. Check for local businesses who might be doing this before placing your order. Even if they don’t have a dedicated store built into their website, macy local businesses sell through larger sites that allow small businesses to sell their wares in an online marketplace.
Cut Out the Go-Between, if Possible
Apps like UberEats and GrubHub might make it sound super-easy to get your takeout delivered, but it comes at a cost to your local business. InstaCart and Shipt likewise charge fees to vendors, just like businesses pay credit card companies a percentage of every transaction.
If you’re able, consider choosing curbside pickup to avoid cutting into the restaurant’s already thin operating margins. Any service that adds an additional layer between you and the business you’re trying to support will probably charge fees to the business, so try to avoid that if possible.
Be Willing to Spend an Extra Buck or Two
We know money is tight, but if you can afford a few extra dollars to support a local business, it’s well worth the effort. Driving a little way further into town or special ordering through their supplier instead of an online big-box can be all they need to stay afloat.
Since small businesses don’t have the same bulk-order buying power as larger corporations, they can’t offer the same rock-bottom prices. It’s not because they don’t want to–they simply can’t. So if you want your local shops and local restaurants to maintain their own unique flavor, give them all the business that you can while they struggle to survive.
Accommodate Adjusted Hours
Many businesses have been forced to reduce or adjust their hours to account for reduced staff or to save on operation costs. If they haven’t closed altogether, they might be running on very limited hours of business.
If you’re used to shopping on Tuesday, and now your favorite shop is only open on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, don’t immediately defect to Amazon. Understand that they’re only doing what they have to in order to survive. If possible, adjust your schedule or revise your expectations to keep giving them your patronage.
Buy Gift Cards and Gift Certificates
Even if you’re not sure what to buy right now, many small businesses offer gift cards. Purchasing a gift card, voucher, or certificate from your local shop will give them an immediate influx of funds.
You can give that voucher to someone as a gift, or spoil yourself sometime in the (near?) future. Either way, it’s a great method for investing in your community, even if you’re fully stocked at the moment.
Be Kind and Spread the Word
Follow local businesses on social media and like and share their posts. Let others in your area know which shops are still open and need their support. It won’t cost you anything but a few clicks, and could mean the world to your local shopkeeper. While you’re at it, take the time to review their products and services, to give them the ratings boost they might need to stay competitive.