Social distancing is the main strategy being used across America to help prevent the virus from spreading. Events have been canceled, gatherings of large groups of people are prohibited, schools have temporarily closed or moved online and nonessential businesses are required to close, reduce their hours or minimize their offerings.
Small and local businesses are likely to suffer greatly, but if communities are vigilant, there are several ways you can still support your favorite spots.
Tip #1: Purchase Gift Cards
Considering buying a gift card for your favorite coffee shop, restaurant or bar to visit at a later time, or get them as gifts for a friend or family member. Some cafes and eateries may even accept payment online, eliminating the need to visit in person.
Tip #2: Buy Local Produce
If your community has a local farmer’s market, visit and stock up on vegetables, fruits or local proteins. If you are a weekly customer, consider purchasing a bit more than usual, as the market may have to close in weeks to come. Freezing, canning or finding creative ways to utilize these local veggies and fruits is another way to spend the extra time allotted from social distancing.
Tip #3: Shop for Products Online
If a restaurant or coffee shop that you love sells products online, consider checking out their offerings and ordering a few. Whether it’s a branded t-shirt, hat or coffee maker, purchasing products from local businesses can help sustain them during the pandemic. You can also consider purchasing artwork or albums online from smaller artists or musicians who will miss out on extra sales from canceled events, art shows and concerts.
Tip #4: Purchase Books from a Local Bookstore
While forms of entertainment are canceled or prohibited, reading is an excellent way to stay busy and productive. Picking up some books from the bookstore for yourself and your family can help small businesses stay afloat. Since more and more stores are closing, it’s a good idea to go as soon as you can or call to see if they're going online.
Tip #5: Order Food for Delivery or Take-Out
While some restaurants are closing completely, others are still able to offer delivery and take-out options. Consider ordering food from a local restaurant for pick-up, and tip a bit more to help out the workers who will be missing out on a large portion of their pay. You can also opt for delivery, if possible. Some delivery platforms, like Grubhub, are doing things such as eliminating commission fees for independent restaurants.
Tip #6: Donate Your Refund
If you were scheduled to attend an event, concert or show that was canceled, donating your refund back is an immense help to organizations, artists and performers who will no longer be able to exercise a central portion of their livelihood. You can also choose to donate the refunded amount to other individuals, organizations or restaurants.
Tip #7: Help Local Businesses to Market Themselves
Spread the word about your favorite coffee shops, restaurants and stores. You can do this by leaving online reviews, interacting with their social media posts and sharing their accounts with your own following. These small marketing efforts can go a long way when it comes to attracting new patrons.
Preventing the spread of this pandemic requires effort from each individual, state and country. Just as health risks are on the rise, however, the financial implications are also increasingly wearisome. By supporting local businesses in creative ways, you can help sustain your favorite shops, restaurants and bars through the upcoming hardships.