For one, small business owners are invested in your community — literally. They often provide exceptional customer service, and they usually have smaller carbon footprints than big-box retailers, to name just a few of the benefits of shopping local.
With many mom-and-pop shops needing to temporarily close their doors right now due to health and safety measures, it's more important than ever before to show them how much you care. Fortunately, it's also never been easier.
Here's how you can support the small businesses you love online, now and always:
1. Purchase gift cards
You know those people who have drawers stocked with universal gifts like candles and blank notebooks in case a last-minute party comes up? Gift cards make the perfect addition to those drawers.
Pick up a few from places where anyone from your aunt to your best friend would be able to find something, like Russell Books Opens in a new window.. Or you can grab a gift card from Pilot Coffee Roasters Opens in a new window.. Tuck them away for your next special occasion. This way, businesses get the revenue from your purchase right now, even though they're closed. And don't forget about yourself — purchase a gift card to your favourite restaurant now, so you can use it whenever it eventually reopens.
2. Offer free or discounted services
A lot of independent businesses have learned to pivot in the past year out of necessity Opens in a new window.. But some small-town shops haven't figured out how to do so yet. If your favourite store is one of them, offer a hand.
If you have specific skills that could help a business, this is a great opportunity to put them to use. Maybe you can help them get their e-commerce shop up and running by using a simple site builder like Weebly, or perhaps you can offer copywriting services at little or no charge. Even if your go-to store is operating at full speed, you can still inspire others to support them by posting on your social media accounts about how great they are.
3. Online shop
We're not exactly reinventing the wheel with this one, but maybe you could use the reminder. If you are fortunate enough to be in a position where you can spend some money, now is the time.
That high-powered blender you always go back and forth about? It's time to click add to cart. Even if you're one of the many with a tight budget right now, you can still be strategic about where you go for your next essential purchases. For example, don't forget about your local health food stores and farmers markets when grocery shopping.
4. Order favours for your virtual event
Throwing a virtual shower, birthday party or even wedding? Just because it's not happening in person doesn't mean you should forego favours. Source adorable soap from your local home goods shop, or mini bottles of champagne from your go-to wine store. Next, set a virtual foot inside that stationery store you've long admired to pick up thank-you cards Opens in a new window.. Even if your video birthday call didn't involve physical gifts, thank your friends just for showing their faces. Like small businesses, they could probably use a pick-me-up right now, too.
5. Fundraisers: contribute and spread the word
Many businesses unable to sustain themselves on takeout and delivery or web sales alone have set up fundraisers. It's true what they say — every little bit counts. If we all give as little as just $5, it can really add up.
But don't stop there. Research shows that fundraisers shared on social media platforms raise 3 times the amount as the ones that don't Opens in a new window.. So, share away. And if the neighborhood joint where you're a regular doesn't have a fundraiser set up, offer to start one. Maybe they're on the fence about doing it and they need a push. Help give it to them.
Little joys count more than ever right now. So, look to the small businesses you love, and show them you're in their corner by ordering away or lending a hand.