As the U.S. comes up on a year of life under the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, many of us have settled into a “new normal.” Things like working from home, helping our kids attend classes over Zoom, and wearing masks in public aren’t new to us anymore. And many of the actions we took in the early days of the pandemic -- like supporting small businesses -- may have faded from our priority lists as time went on.
While it may be nearly a year later, many local and small businesses still need our support in order to make it out on the other side of the pandemic. Of course, not everyone may be in a financial position to support these businesses monetarily.
But from shopping local to sharing on social media and more, there are plenty of ways we can help support these small businesses through the pandemic. Consider these 7 ideas.
1. Shop Small/Local
While many of us may have cut our spending since the beginning of the pandemic, due to financial reasons or just changes in our lifestyles and needs, none of us have completely stopped shopping altogether. Next time you need groceries, home goods, or a birthday gift for your grandma, consider purchasing from a local business rather than a large, national retailer.
You may find that local businesses have slightly higher prices, though this isn’t always the case. But if they do, remember that you’re paying a small fee to make a big difference in the life of a local business owner.
2. Order Takeout/Delivery
When a business isn’t able to provide their services, there’s no money coming in. This is the truth regardless of whether the business is a store, restaurant, or something else. Even if it’s not safe to visit the store or restaurant in person, it doesn’t mean that you can’t give them your business.
By ordering takeout or delivery from your favorite local restaurant, you’re not only ordering a delicious meal for you and your family. You’re also helping the staff of that restaurant stay employed and providing cash flow to that business. Plus, most of us can agree that after being at home for 11 months, cooking at home can get boring.
3. Buy Gift Cards
Even as some businesses close temporarily -- whether it’s due to a positive case of coronavirus amongst staff, or due to local/state mandates -- buying gift cards online for future use can really help businesses stay afloat during tough times.
Not only does it guarantee a flow of revenue to their business at the current moment when the gift card is purchased, but it also guarantees a follow-up visit from the customer at a date in the future. With each visit to a store or restaurant, there’s an increased chance of a customer making a purchase.
4. Use Cashless Methods of Payment
The U.S. is a nearly cashless society at this point, with electronic methods of payment finding favor among most people. And it turns out that this may be in our favor when it comes to dealing with the spread of coronavirus. Paying with cash -- bills and coins -- are more likely to transmit germs between people compared to cashless methods of payment.
Common cashless methods of payment include:
- Debit and credit cards
- Apple and Google Pay
- Peer-to-peer (P2P) payment systems, such as Zelle
Not only are cashless methods of payment likely to be more sanitary, but they’re also faster. This means you can get in and out of a local business more quickly, which means less time for potential exposure.
5. Share on Social Media
Even if money is tight and you’re not able to make any extra purchases from small businesses, there are other ways you can support them without spending a dollar.
Leaving positive reviews on their company social media profiles, and sharing recommendations on your own social profiles, can be just as helpful. By giving your favorite businesses your own personal endorsement, it contributes to their positive reputation in the community, meaning that new potential customers can find them easily and may give them their business.
6. Participate in Community Efforts
If you’re not able to regularly support local businesses due to your financial or other situations, you can look for ways to support them through community efforts.
Whether that’s occasionally taking part in a “Small Business Saturday” event or a “Black Restaurant Week,” participating in community efforts can help small businesses build momentum and meet their goals.
7. Be Understanding
COVID has turned life upside down for many of us, and that’s definitely true for small business owners and employees as well. As we all work through pandemic life together, it’s important to remember that we’re all doing the best we can during these unprecedented times.
One of the best things you can do to help is be understanding of the difficulties small businesses are facing as a result of the pandemic, from finances to staffing and supply chain, and more. If your delivery order is delayed, remember to have patience instead of writing a negative review or angry email to the store owner.
By Your Side Through the Pandemic
Through the coronavirus pandemic and beyond, Academy Bank is working to be your financial partner. You can bank from the safety of your home, phone or car using our convenient, easy-access options.
We’re here for you.