Lockdowns resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic have been affecting businesses nationwide since March of last year. Small and medium-sized local businesses are the backbone of our economy, and the initial push to help support these institutions through this uncertain time must continue now.
There are many simple but effective ways to support local businesses in your community and help them weather this turbulence. Taking these steps will bolster your local economy and promote your community and its unique culture.
1. Buy Local
The easiest way you can help support small businesses in your community is by buying local. Too often, the prices of large retailers like Amazon can back small businesses operating at a local level into a corner when they’re unable to compete with almost wholesale-level rates.
To help counteract this effect, choose the local option whenever possible, whether you’re purchasing necessities or splurging on something fun as self-care. Turn to a local restaurant rather than a chain for takeout, and order directly from the restaurant rather than through a third-party service. This way, the restaurant gets to keep all the proceeds rather than paying a fee. You can also help local businesses by investing in some gift cards to cash in later or give as gifts around the holidays or for a loved one’s birthday.
2. Help Out With Tech Support
With strict social distancing measures in effect in many places, scores of businesses that once operated strictly offline have tried to adapt by setting up websites and online sales portals. Although an online presence is increasingly important in this day and age, the transition hasn’t been easy for everyone. For business owners who are older, less tech-literate, or simply too busy to dedicate the necessary time and energy, profits may reflect that struggle.
Fortunately, many problems faced by those entering the digital landscape face for the first time have relatively simple fixes. You may even be able to offer advice and basic tech support. If not, you can help them find local computer repair help, as well as connecting them with other services they may benefit from.
3. Get Social
As the importance of an online storefront has increased, so has the need for a solid social media presence. If your favorite local business has social media profiles on commonly used social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc., be sure to like and follow their pages. It seems simple, but interacting with their posts through comments and shares can raise their online profile, which helps put them on the radar of other potential customers.
Boosting their social metrics can even bring their story to the attention of local news outlets. Many outlets are focusing on coverage concerning the perseverance of local industry, which can help drive even more customers their way.
4. Organize An Event
You can also raise both awareness and funds for your favorite local business by organizing events safe events like a drive-in movie or a motor parade. If you decide to organize an in-person event, be sure to check the latest federal and local guidance. You can also organize a digital event like a live-streamed concert or conference.
A great way to get people interested in these events is by hosting them as charity events. You can donate the proceeds to your favorite local business or split them between multiple businesses in your area to keep your community thriving.
5. Be Positive
In addition to being kind and helping out local business owners by offering your skills and fundraising, you can also take the simple step of writing them a positive review. Websites like Yelp and Angie’s List collect feedback from customers, and many people turn to those reviews when deciding which businesses to frequent.
You can also recommend local businesses to your friends and family who may not know about them to help them out during these harsh times. Never underestimate the power of good old-fashioned word-of-mouth marketing for local companies.
Support Your Community By Supporting Local Businesses
Mom and pop shops depend on the community as much as the community depends on them. If the businesses that supply communities with everyday necessities collapse, it will hurt the economy on a local and national scale and allow large corporations unchallenged control of markets. It helps to shop local and show your support for these SMBs.
What’s more, losing these institutions damages the unique culture of a community. To ensure that the small businesses in your area continue to have a fighting chance, be sure to support them in any way you can.