Small Businesses Need Support Right Now—Here Are 10 Ways to Shop Local When You're Stuck at Home
As the novel coronavirus continues to spread throughout the U.S., public and local health authorities are encouraging citizens to avoid gathering in large groups for at least eight weeks, and urging retailers and restaurants to either close or consolidate their offerings. Hundreds of schools have closed temporarily, and companies across all industries have asked their office employees to work remotely for the foreseeable future. Streets are quiet and, sadly, independent businesses are already taking a hit.
"Small businesses run on slim margins and tight budgets—today's sales help pay tomorrow's rent," says Ann Cantrell, owner of Annie’s Blue Ribbon General Store in Brooklyn, N.Y. "Small businesses are the lifeblood of a community, they add to the diversity and the flavor of the neighborhood. Some businesses can’t survive a week without being open, let alone a month or longer, as some estimates are saying." Cantrell adds that many businesses owners fear that once they close, they may never reopen.
These rigid cancellations and social distancing precautions are, of course, for everyone’s personal safety—to help curb the rate of COVID-19 cases—but they’re undeniably taking a toll on local economies across the country.
The right thing to do is listen to local and national health officials’ recommendations and continue practicing responsible social distancing, hand-washing, and avoiding touching your face and physical contact with anyone who's sick.
However, that doesn’t mean you should stop supporting local shops, restaurants, bakeries, and institutions while working from home or sitting on the couch. You (and the local economy) rely on independent purveyors every day—and now their livelihoods rely on you for continued support. And not just for themselves and their storefronts, but for their families, employees, and clients, and wholesalers.
"[Small businesses] need cash to cover employees' salaries, health care, countless bills, and more," Cantrell adds. "Plus, so many jobs in the community are tied back to small businesses, so our whole ecosystem could be in jeopardy."
Here are some easy and creative ways to help your hometown businesses stay afloat during this unprecedented and uncertain time.