As many American businesses shut down or scale back their operations to prevent spreading the coronavirus, you may be wondering what you can do to help. Even during a pandemic, there are ways to support the many small businesses in your community that might be struggling.
USE DELIVERY SERVICES
Many businesses offer curbside or home delivery options. This has been a growing trend in recent years because of online shopping, but the pandemic has made these options seem less like a luxury and more like a community service. If a restaurant or retailer offers some kind of delivery service, take them up on it. You’ll be able to do your shopping or enjoy a delicious meal without the public health risk of gathering in large groups.
BUY GIFT CARDS
Even if a business temporarily shuts its doors, you might still be able to help them out by buying gift cards for future spending. See which of your favorite local businesses offer gift cards or gift certificates, either online or in person. If you have the means, buy a gift card now that you can enjoy later. You can either use it yourself or give it as a gift for birthdays or holidays. Local businesses could use the support right now.
Helping businesses recover from the temporary pandemic shutdown — a sacrifice they’re making to protect public health — will likely require government assistance. Fortunately, America has a democratic foundation. That means you can push for the best local, state and federal help that makes sense for small businesses in your community. Attend city council meetings. Write your legislators. Make your voice heard, because supporting the best government response to this pandemic — whatever that looks like to you — is a powerful way to help the country recover.
Where businesses are open, be polite and thankful to the people working there. Retail workers are under stress to restock shelves and keep customers calm amid an unusual uptick in demand for groceries, medical supplies and other essentials. If the shelves are empty, that’s the fault of customers doing panic buying, not the store’s workers. Be part of the solution by not purchasing more than you need.
OFFER TO HELP
Look for ways to help your friends and neighbors who are temporarily out of work. That applies to the basics, like making sure they have food and supplies, to helping them find ways to bridge the income gap until their jobs come back. For people who are working extra hours during the pandemic — especially health care workers — look for ways to ease their burden. You might be able to offer free child care until schools reopen, for example.
SPEND BIG LATER
Make it a point to support local businesses in a big way as soon as it’s safe to do so. Businesses still have utility bills, rent, loans and payroll expenses during the pandemic shutdown. Their resources will be stretched thin. You can help them survive and thrive for the long term by being ready and willing to do business with them again as soon as they reopen. With your help, local businesses will be back up and running — and serving as the backbone of your community — as soon as possible.