As the COVID-19 Pandemic rages on, it continues to decimate the lives of millions of Americans. Many have lost their loved ones and suffer from adverse health effects, both physically and mentally.
Another major problem the virus has caused is the suffering of small businesses, particularly those that rely on in-person patronage.
While major corporations such as Marriott, Disney, McDonald’s and Nike are sure to survive, smaller local businesses are having a much more challenging time.
As of Aug. 31, according to the Yelp Economic Average, 163,735 small businesses have closed, with 97,966 shutting their doors for good because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Companies that make up local communities still need all the help and support they can get. Here are five ways the average consumer can help small businesses on their road to recovery.
1. Order takeout rather than fast food
This is an obvious point that many have already done, but takeout is still a vital part of today’s restaurant industry as dining rooms remain closed.
While it isn’t the same experience as going to a restaurant or bar with friends, ordering takeout has been instrumental in keeping local restaurants afloat during the pandemic. It’s the same food from the same place, it just can’t be eaten in the place it is picked up.
Outdoor dining remains an option but, with winter setting in, is less appealing than eating with family or friends in a warm house during the holidays.
Restaurants have changed many things and created entirely new systems just to make takeout possible. Their ingenuity and adaptability is incredible and deserves to be rewarded.
2. Give businesses support online
This one is less obvious but still important. While we can’t let businesses know our gratitude in person, a positive review is a great alternative, not just during an historical pandemic.
Positive reviews can influence people to take their patronage to a local place, establish credibility and trust, and allow consumers to interact with the company. This interaction is vital in a time where most people are confused due to the ever changing landscape and hours of operation that are vastly different for some companies.
Social media also continues to be an omnipresent being with unlimited power. A quick shoutout to a favorite clothing store along with some pictures rocking a stylish outfit from them can go a long way.
This is also the case with posting food, makeup and any other product one can display.
3. Shop small!
While it is super easy to pick up your phone and order things from large companies, in most cases they do not need business nearly as badly as local places.
Ordering things from Amazon or Wish is easy and quick but is not helping keep small business afloat. Neither is getting Burger King or ordering a $128.00 Supreme Chucky Doll.
Rather, order online or call the best restaurant or boutique in town. Don’t get a haircut at Great Clips. Instead, go to a local barbershop where the haircut will have a personal touch.
While this route is not always cheaper than settling with the oftentimes lower-quality brand name products, it is a great way to keep community establishments in business and will make a much more significant difference.
4. Buy Gift Cards
This is another route to go that is not as widely considered, but can really benefit local establishments, especially places such as salons and fitness studios, or institutions that provide a service.
Gift cards can be purchased and used later, once the store has either reopened or is safer to go to. This gives businesses a bump by essentially guaranteeing they will be used when the pandemic is over.
Gift cards are also a great way to get others to use small businesses. They also provide advertising and can lead to others giving gift cards, especially during the holidays.
5. Help stop the spread.
Finally, and arguably most importantly, follow the governmental guidelines and do your part to stop the spread of coronavirus.
People are suffering mentally, physically and financially because of the virus and many people’s indifference to the threat it poses. The biggest boon for small business, and the only thing that will fully bring them back, is the containment and control of COVID-19.
While the orders from the state of Michigan have hindered nearly every small business in some way, shape or form, fighting them and continuing to ignore the threat of COVID-19 will only extend the shut down.
Employees also do not want to be put in the position of having to interact with a potentially infected customer that is not following guidelines and laws. It is uncomfortable at best and dangerous at its worst.
Wear a mask. Socially distance. Do the little things to help little businesses in a big way.