There’s no doubt that the pandemic has been toughest on small businesses. It’s forced our favorite restaurants, boutiques, salons, coffeehouses, and plenty more to change up their normal operations and get creative to stay afloat. Enter curbside pick-up, makeshift outdoor dining spaces, and streamlined online services. Our small community businesses stepped up to keep taking care of us, and their employees, even when the odds were stacked against them. And after a trying year, the holiday season seems like a fitting time to recognize their efforts. You can take advantage of this season by not only donating to your favorite charities but also by giving back. We’ve made a few suggestions on how to support small businesses during this holiday season.
1. Shop Local
I’m breaching sensitive ground here, but I’ll say it anyway: ditch Amazon, at least in part. You don’t have to cancel your account or boycott the delivery truck every time it passes your house, but buying from local businesses is vital to empowering the community and its economy in today’s small business crisis.
Take your holiday shopping to your local clothing boutiques, antique stores, independent book shops, markets, and so many more. If you’re looking for online shopping options, many businesses have taken the months since the start of the pandemic to expand their reach. These local institutions—whether you visit them in person or online—offer products, services, and ambiance reflective of the community. They possess a kind of charm that can’t be replicated or found among online corporate giants.
2. Buy Gift Cards
As you consider gift options for the people on your holiday shopping list, local presents work even for those it’s hard to shop for. While you might not know the route to go in buying a tangible present for your coworker or acquaintance, you can still share a slice of the community, and yourself, with them by keeping it local.
Gift cards to community businesses are quick and reliable last-minute present options that provide a personal touch. They’re also an easy way to support the local economy. A gift card to your live-by-or-die coffee shop tells your coworker a bit about you (and your caffeine consumption habits). The gift also turns into more support and possibly a new patron for the business. An easy way out holiday present that benefits your community—it’s a win all around.
3. Eat In Your Neighborhood
Restaurants have taken an especially hard hit this last year, with the industry poised to lose hundreds of billions by the end of 2020. While take-out and delivery services have sprung up to close the gap forged by the loss of steady in-person business, it’s hard to replace the on-site dining experience for restaurant owners and patrons alike.
Take your Friendsgiving celebration to a local restaurant this year, or treat your family to a holiday brunch. Our local eateries have been both vigilant and innovative in securing our safety while still making the dining experience a positive one. The best way to thank your favorite local restaurants for their service is by frequenting them.
4. Treat Yourself
None of us are immune to some of 2020’s most unkind maladies like Zoom fatigue and the distress of the coronavirus news cycle. Neither are our local businesses free of the dreaded (and seemingly unending) video calls or the burdens of the pandemic. Set aside time for some self-care, but do so with your local friends in mind.
Visit a salon to get your nails done before your holiday dinner, or make an appointment at a spa. There’s also plenty of local crafting opportunities if you’re looking to use your hands for something other than navigating a keyboard. Taking some time to get out of the house and decompress is healthy—especially after the year we’ve collectively had—and it also supports these businesses that still suffer the similar fallout of months stuck behind a screen.
5. Share the Love
Social media is one of the easiest ways to offer our support, but we often forget how powerful a tool it can be in bringing attention (and patrons) to local businesses. Share your shopping adventures, good eats, and fresh haircuts by tagging the businesses you visit on Instagram or Facebook. Highlight your positive, safe experiences and plug the store. It costs you nothing, and it could prove valuable for their business. They’ll appreciate the extra exposure—plus, you might even get reposted onto their own social media pages!
So, how are you going to support small businesses this holiday season? Let us know in the comments below.