Though the coronavirus pandemic is global, the nature of social distancing and quarantine means many of us are hunkered in our own homes and more reliant on our local communities -- and their small businesses -- than ever before. It can be easy to take what's right in front of you for granted, but could you name three of your favorite local businesses right now? If you can name them, do you know if they're in trouble?
Statistics would say, overwhelmingly, yes. A Wallethub study found that 87% of small business owners say their business is hurting from the coronavirus. And even worse, a full 35% of those same small business owners say their business can only survive for less than three months in current conditions.
Whether your favorite small business has a physical location in your local community or a digital one in an online store, there's plenty you can do to support small business owners through this pandemic, if you're in a position to do so.
Shy on Money? Give Time or Resources
The first thing to remember is that you can support small businesses without opening your pocketbook, especially if the pandemic has left you strapped for cash.
Social media means more to local and independent businesses, and that's because in the world of marketing, nothing beats word-of-mouth. One easy way to support your favorite businesses is to show them some love on social media: follow and like them, share their promotions and updates, and leave reviews to recommend them to your friends. It doesn't cost a penny for you, but it does have real economic impact for the business.
You can also offer your expertise to local business owners in need. “Business owners need legal, accounting and insurance help negotiating issues, outstanding debts and granular disputes,” Baron Christopher Hanson, lead consultant and owner of RedBaron Consulting, told NBCNews. “If you are a CEO, CFO or in-house lawyer stuck at home, try calling your favorite local businesses to simply consult with them, help answer pressing questions and alleviate fears.”
Shop Local to Boost your Local Economy
If you can support your favorite local businesses with your patronage, now is about getting creative to figure out how to do so.
Instead of Amazon, consider shopping directly on indie bookstores' websites or Bookshop.org, which donates partial proceeds from each sale to the independent bookstore of your choice. Missing your favorite cocktail? Sign up to donate to a local digital tip jar or BEAP, the Bartender Employee Assistance Program.
Lots of experts have agreed that takeout is safe, so you can order your favorite meals for curbside pickup without worry -- or, you can purchase a gift certificate from your favorite restaurant and plan to use it at a later date. Why not give a few gift cards to friends who you plan to get together with once the pandemic subsides?
Shop Independent Online
It's also important to remember that digital businesses can be small businesses, too. The independent sellers on Cratejoy work hard to produce thoughtful gift experiences that you couldn't find just anywhere -- and while it's still difficult or cumbersome to shop traditional retail, depending on where you live, it can be comforting to support a small business owner while still giving your graduates, spring birthdays, and other special moments the attention they deserve!
A few ideas: First and foremost, chances are, you have a medical professional somewhere in your network working hard to keep us all safe and healthy. Consider gifting them with Stethi, curated specifically for women in medicine. For the young ones and families in your life, consider something fun like Marshmallow of the Month Club or Laura's Kitchen Table, which offers delicious food, drinks, and kitchen items from a female-owned business. Little girls in your life will love The Whimsical Woolies, who make handcrafted wool necklaces each month.
It's important, of course, to take care of yourself during this pandemic, too. Consider gifting yourself the Work Space Spark box, an office decor subscription, to help brighten your work-from-home setup. More interested in escape than work? Consider Lather and Light Co.'s handmade spa and soap boxes — or the Life's a Wave Beach Box, an ocean-themed subscription designed to bring the beach to you.
Finally, if you're really looking to maximize every dollar you spend right now, you could focus your independent online shopping on gifts that give back.
Lemonie is a monthly earring subscription that donates a portion of every box purchased to special organizations that empower women and girls. The Wordy Traveler offers a luxury book club experience that also gives back -- each box, which includes hand-selected books from travel writers, ethically-sourced tea, and limited edition art, also supports the nutritional needs of two children for a year!